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utside j^nt> Inside. 





author, of "the new world compared with the old," and Washington correspondent 
of the chicago tribune. 

" We do not know of any American newspaper-English which we like hetter, as English, than that of Mr. Geo. 
Alfred Townsend. Our readers are not ignorant of Mr. Townsend's services at the Capital, where he has distin- 
guished himself as a hater of shams and friendly to all those measures of political reform to which tbe hetter 
portion of the Republican party is irrevocably committed. It is, to be Bure, sometimes easier to be amused by 
Mr. Townsend's personalities, than to apologize for them ; but there is a humor and picturesqueness about them 
which is nothing less than poetical."— New York Nation. 


S. Mi. BETTS &c CO., 


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873, 

in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington. 



"We do not know of any American newspaper-English which we like 
better, as English, than that of Mr. George Alfred Townsend. Our read- 
ers are not ignorant of Mr. Townsend's services at the capital, where he 
has distinguished himself as a hater of shams and friendly to all those 
measures of political reform to which the better portion of the Republican 
party is irrevocably committed. It is, to be sure, sometimes easier to be 
amused by Mr. Townsend's personalities, than to apologize for them; but 
there is a humor and picturesqueness about them which is nothing less than 




The Credit Mobilier investigation of 1873 — Excitement in the country 
over its developments — A review of the causes of our political demor- ' 
aiization — Eminent men affected by the scandal — Two Vice-Presi 
dents and the heads of the important committees scathed — The- back 
pay plunder— How to approach the remedy. .»»•«.»» 21 


How Washington City came to be. 
Was it a job or a compromise ? — Had Gen. Washington interested 
motives in locating it? — The land owners and their wrangles — Con- 
gress driven out of Philadelphia — The manner of buying the ground 
— Capital moving — Reminiscences of the site — Character of the early 
population — Washington rides out with the commissioners — His mor- 
tifications — What the town has cost the Government — Condition of 
civilization when the city was founded. * ... 25 


The Civil versus the Congressional Service. 
Which is the most honest ? — Many of our evils inherited from colonial 
times — The constituency often responsible for bad ■ Congressmen — 
Want of a national spirit — Provincialism in public life — Mr. Holman 
opposed to astronomy — Friendlessness of the federal institutions — ■ 
Reasons for the decay of our navy yards — Private ship yards and 
green timber — The contract-getting Congressmen— Bureau life more 
responsible than political life — Instances of eminent clerks — Admiral 
Goldsborough— Dr. William Thornton— Wm. Lambert founds the 


Observatory— John C. Rives— Amos Kendall— "Villages of clerks— 
Clerksville— Howardsville— Mr. Edward D. Neill — Railroad law- 
yers in the Land Office — Gen. Spinner — Sketch of John J. Knox, the 
comptroller of the currency e 38 


The Job op Planning the Federal City. 
Major L 'Enfant, the landscape gardener — Jefferson's influence in the 
plan of the city — L 'Enfant discharged — His lonely life and death — 
Vindication of his extravagance— His quarrel with Daniel Carroll — 
Sketch of Andrew Ellicott, L 'Enfant's successor — Benjamin Banne- 
ker, the negro surveyor — Washington's prediction concerning his 
namesake city. , 47 


The Architects op the Capitol and their feuds. 
Stephen S. Hallet, the French architect — His claim to have won the 
premium for the great structure — An examination of his drawings — 
"Want of information about him — Dr. William Thornton wje success- 
ful architect — His life and versatility — Hallet!d by the 
commissioners — Employment of George Hadfield — His public con- 
structions — His criticism upon Thornton's plan — Diseharg ;d — Em- 
ployment of James Hoban — Hoban's career in America — Le builds 
the White House — He is succeeded by Latrobe — Account of that 
fine architect — He builds the wings — Quarrels with the commission- 
ers — Is" succeeded by Chas. Bulfinch of Boston — Romantic s'oryof 
Bulfinch — He builds the center, rotunda, and library-^-Is succeeded 
by Robt. Mills — Mills builds the old Treasury, Patent-Office, and 
Post-Office — Is discharged — The stone quarries at Seneca and Acquia 
Creeks — The new wings designed — Life of Thonias U. Walter, the 
great classical architect — Cost of materials — Expense of the Capitol 
— Renown of the great building — Its associations 56 


The Lobby and its Gentry. 
Definition of lobbyist — Jefferson makes the architect screen the lobby 
— Fine abilities of some lobbyists — Lobbyists relations with news- 
paper men — The poker-playing lobbyist — Anecdote — The cotton- 
bug scheme to ref'i'-l the. cotton tax — Its failure — Extravagant 
scheme — Adolph Sulio and his tunnel — He is opposed f>y the Bank 


dome — Brumidi — The crypt — Associations of the rotunda — Future 
of the Capitol — The lighting apparatus — Beautiful phenomenon — 
Other structures compared with our'-s — Cost of some of the items — 
A talk with the dome builders — How the war affected the contractor 
— What he has to say — How a penurious Congress agreed to have 
a new dome— Pretty romance 1ST 


Some of the Organic Evils of our Congressional System. 
Jroken promises come home to roost^The Congressman seducing his 
constituent to be an office-getter — An illustration — How Indian trea- 
ties are put through — The Indian title to lands — Value of acquaint- 
anceship in Washington— Jobbers taking advantage of the machinery 
of Government — The Commercial Republic — Mr. Shannon on dem- 
agoguery — How rich men buy legislation to save time — The manual 
of parliamentary rule — Neglect of public business — The boy Speaker . 
— Willie Todd — Thaddy Morris — The Senate Chamber — Cussedness 
in the Senate — Personal resentment in legislation .149 


The Cheerful Patriot in Washington. 
\. good-natured, nondescript character introduced to show the progress 
of the times — His comments on the city — His reminiscences of old 
times — The bad hotels of other daj's — Improvement in manners — 
Temperance and obedience to law — Improved chastity — Decay of 
cock fighting — More courtesy than in old times — Ground for hope 
in all directions — His vista of the city 160 


Talk with the Oldest Citizen of Washington. 
^. man who remembers back to 1796 — Christian Times in his ninetieth 
year — His recollections of the old city — Noble Hurdle, his contem- 
porary — He retraces his steps three-quarters of a century — He recol- 
lects all the Presidents — Sees Washington in the Federal City — A 
very old leaf from the past 167 


Style, Extravagance, and Matrimony at the Seat of Govern- 
jost of living in Washington — Great profligacy in feeding — Jno. Welck- 
er and his celebrated restaurant — The Washington markets — Early 


good times in the history of the city — Beale's, WetherilPs, Crutchet's, 
Gautier's — Welcker's great dining room — Price of a Congressional 
dinner — Twenty dollars a plate — His chief cook — Instances of ex- 
travagant meals at Washington — Spanish mackerel — Brook trout — 
Mountain mutton — Canvas backs — Potomac snipe — Potomac shad — 
Savannah shad — Black bass — Capon au sauce Goddard — Truffles — 
Hotel life at Washington and New York — Extravagance of politi- 
cians — Prices at the Arlington Hotel — The prince's ball — The scene — 
Dresses of the host and guest — Members of the legation — Romance of 
the Gerolt family — The Baron's daughter goes to a convent — A blast- 
ed matrimonial project — The diplomatic body — Marriages between 
American girls and foreign ministers — The prose side of the diplo- 
matic corps — Bridal couples at Washington — The diary of a bride 
who came to see the impeachment trial — A laughable description. IT 


Domestic History of the White House. 

The Presidents and their wives in order — Mrs. Adams's letters — She 
makes the first description of the interior of the White House — Jeffer- 

» son runs in debt as President — Borrows money from the Richmond 
banks — Mrs. Madison again— Monroe and the era of good feeling — 
Description of the apartments — State dinners — The wall paper and 
ornaments — Reminiscences of the house — John Quincy Adams in- 
troduces a billiard table— Clothes to dry in the East Room — Jas. Par-' 
ton on the White House — Portrait painters there — Mrs. Eaton — 
Jackson's manners — Matty Van Buren— Jackson abuses Congress — 
Jackson's two forks — Deaths in the White House — John Tyler's 
bride — Harriet Lane .' 194 


A Series of open air Excursions around Washington to get 
rid of Politics. 

The ride to Bull Run — Appearance of that memorable battle-field 
— Fairfax Court-house as it is — Centreville — Dinner at Robinson's 
house— The battle between the two Capitols — Talk with Majof Tyler 
at Fairfax — The old stone bridge — The horrible Virginia roads — 
Bull Run to look upon — Analysis of the battle — General McDowell 
— 56 miles in 16 hours — A day in the old forts — A walk across the 
Eastern Branch— The 56 forts of Washington— A visit tb the poor 
house of Washington — The Congressional Cemetery — Paupers at the 
Capital City- ■" he ead fate of many a 

pbca -i ;> i ie to live in . . - ■ 20 



Necessity of Changes in our Government to counteract Abuses. 

A great number of amendments already proposed to the constitution — > 
Catalogue of these amendments — " God in the. constitution " — A very 
important amendment: the election of U. S. senators by the' people 
directly — Senator Harlan's amendment to this effect — Arguments pro 
and con — Demoralization of the Senate as a patronage-making body. 227 


Some of the Bureaux of our Government visited. 
The Coast Survey — -Its origin and development — What it has to do — 
The Supreme Court and the fees of the most eminent lawyers there — 
The chief door-keeper of Congress — A walk through the document 
room — The printing of maps — A mooted case — Joe Wilson — A reve- 
nue detective — The whisky frauds — How they were accomplished — 
Talk with a Mr. Martin — Stationery contractors at Washington — 
How Judge Foote was attacked by the envelope-makers — Secrets of 
the government printing office — Secrets of the Patent Office — Munn 
&■ Co. — Crowding of the government buildings. ...... 235 


Celebrated Scandals of our time. 
Corruptions incidental to the war — Rise of lobby and railroad influence 
in New York and Pennsylvania — How it took advantage of the war 
— Muster of the lobby at Washington — Inflation, high tariff and high 
prices— Sentiment and robbery run together — Incapacity of Congress 
to give a policy to the government — Prosperity infects the whole mass 
— A novel remedy proposed — Heads of departments to have seats 
in Congress — Want of patriotism in the constituency — Judge Hoar 
ho unde d out of office — John C. Fremont and the El Paso railroad- 
French justice more certain than American — Scandal of the Vienna 
exhibition — Senators toadying to Ben Holliday — The Alaska fur seal j 
controversy — McGarrahan's claim for the New Idria mine — How Con- 
gress is flooded with stock . . 255 


Crimes and Follies of our Public Life. 
A story of Mexican land claims — Impertinence of claim jobbers — Talk 
with Burton C. Cook — The Black Bob lands — Story of French claims 
— Mr. Benton on French claims — The lobby thirty years ago — Basil 


Hall on French claims — The romance of claimants — Blanton Dun- 
can — Congressman Stokes sent to prison — The cadetship exposure — 
Whittemore — Bowen, the bigamist — Stock gamblers at Washington — 
Political friendship — Abolition of the Electoral College — Need of a 
new constitutional convention — Stealing a seat in Congress — Morton 
and Conkling on the Caldwell case — Dead-heading in public life — ■ 
Denominational support of unworthy Congressmen — Need of Spartan 
sacrifice to save the State ■' . 275 


The Supreme Court and Local Justice at Washington. 
General arrangement of the courts of the District — Picture of the 
supreme court — Its atmosphere and garniture — Its clerks and offices 
— The past Chief Justices — Interior life of the Judges — The robing 
servitor — Opposition to the court from Congress — How the decisions 
are made — The deciding room— Opening of the court — District bar — - 
Local lawyers — Philip Barton Key — Tillotson-Brown case — Fight- 
ing lawyers out of the field 298 


A Picture of Mt. Vernon in 1789. 
The estate of Washington as it was in his lifetime— He is advised of 
his selection as President— His acceptance — David Humphreys and 
his household — Home comforts at that period — The first President's 
character — His land and social life — A study for politicians and 
Presidents now-a-days — Financial struggles —Washington's love of 
the Potomac country — Apprehensions of its declining condition — Its 
fishei-ies— His husbandry — His thoughts on emancipation— Shipping 
facilities — Washington, no ladies' man — His political cast and rank 
—Reminiscences of Mt. Vernon— Current estimates of Washington 

Last visit to his mother — Affecting interview — Departs for the 

Capital in New York 311 


The Dueling Ground at Bladensburg and. the great 
duels there. 
A social sketch of Monroe's administration — The battle-field and duel- 
ing ground of Bladensburg — Several duels cited — Graves and Cilley 
—Mason and McCarty— Clay and Randolph— talk with village 
loiterers — A very complete account of the duel between Barron and 
Decatur— Reminiscences of Decatur— His widow. 330 



Some of the Ablest Men of Affairs of the Period. 
Personal sketches of E. M. Stanton— Thaddeus Stevens — James A. 
McDougall — Thomas Benton — Chas. Sumner — Benjamin F. Butler 
—Carl Schurz — Anecdotes descriptive of their public careers and 
methods of doing public business — The glut of capable men — The 
dearth of illustrious ones. 359 


Curiosities of the Great Bureaux of the Government. 
The annual appropriation bills — What it costs to be governed — Quaint 
features of the executive departments — The New York custom house 
— Figures about it — The marines and their old barrack at Washing-^ 
ton — The agricultural department — The Smithsonian Institute — The 
detective of the Treasury — The Librarian of Congress — Peter Force 
— The bug microscopist — Novel Judge-Advocate — Mint and coinage 
laws — Army and Navy medical museum — Quaint people in the Treas- 
ury. . 376 


My pursuit of Credit Mobilier. 
I receive orders to find what the scandal amounts to — Start for Phila- 
delphia — Rummage amongst the court records — Trace up the Credit 
Mobilier Company to the fiscal agency — See the commissioner to take 
testimony — Telegraph to the plaintiif — Visit New York — Interview 
Col. Henry S. McComb — He gives at full length the story of his suit. 402 


Credit Mobilier brought to bat. 
The credit mobilier examination — Inside the committee room — Judge 
Poland's appearance — The prosecuting witness, McComb — Ames 
and Alley — The culpable Congressmen — Their embarrassment and 
distress — Examination of each case — Finding of the committee — 
Brooks and Ames designated for expulsion — Both die in a few weeks 
— The United States bring suit against the credit mobilier. , . 423 


The Worst. of Washington Life. 
Women of the lobby — Lucy Cobb — "Comanche" — Mrs. Gen. Straig- 
ton — A scene in clerk life — The stews of Murder Bay — Dying of an 


idle class-o-The old gamesters of Washington — Death of Jack 
McCarty at the hands of Dennis Darden — Closing up of Joe Hall's 
— Negro servants waiting upon our statesmen — Interview with one — 
Madness of the constituency — Dirt and the taverns — The national 
hotel disease — How it happened — The first and last of slavery in 
Washington — Vestiges of it — The Slave Pen 456 


The Land Office and its Involutions. 
Fraud in the civil service — The interior department— How the land 
grant railways manipulate it — Carl Schurz's opinion — Testimony of 
a correspondent seeking information — The indisposition to let the 
public be advised — "Ways that are dark and tricks that are vain." 475 


Humors and Clouds of Congressional Life. 

How one feels when he gets to Congress — Getting the blues away from 
home — Associates — Description of the opening performance — How 
Mr. Blaine was elected Speaker — The delegates as tadpoles — Sending 
the message to Congress — The Caucus — Inside the Caucus — Its tyr- 
anny — Woes of the lobby members — Brilliant scene of party tyranny 
at the impeachment trial — Perquisites — Down in the document room 
— Extravagance of the public printing — End of the franking privi- 
lege — Talk with the chief door-keeper — How constituents pursue 
their members — Folly of putting up new Post-Offices — The rural 
Congressman before the architect of the Treasury 495 


A Tilt at some of the Great and Little Goblins. 
Sketch of " the striker " who makes food of people seeking relief — The 
Alaska purchase and investigation — Poetry of the lobby — Arbitrary 
Seizure of letters and telegrams — Butler in cream — Peddling char- 
ters and special legislation — The Kansas ringleaders — The Pacific 
coast public men — Pomeroy and Caldwell compared — Fremont and 
the El Paso road — Agricultural College lands — Weakness of depart- 
ment reports — The Indian ring — A scene at the Patent Office — List 
of the back pay culprits , 516 



Chiefly Antiquarian and Descriptive. ^ 

Opening of the public offices in Washington, 1800 — Original jurisdic- 
tion — The first excitement in the Capital — The naniers of the city — ■• 
Early buyers of lots — Peculations — Carrollsburg — A defense of the 
original proprietors — Origin of the name of Georgetown — Weld's 
description of the city in 1 796 — Tobias Leer's book— ^Doctor Ward- , 
en's account of the City in 1810— Sutcliff 's visit — Francis Asbury's 
account — Tom Moore's visit in 1804, and what he wrote in poetry — 
The bad roads of Maryland — Contemporaneous cities — Wharves — 
Failures of the early house-builders — Opening of turnpike roads — 
Wolcott's sketch of the Washingtoners — Janson's sketch — J. Davis's 
sketch — Excerpts from the commissioners' books — Retrocession in 
1803 — Pumps — The aqueduct — Growth of population — Present taxes 
— Help from the Presidents — Georgetown College — Early Alexandria 
— Washington Canal, now and then — History of the Navy Yard — 
The old City Hall — The longitude and the Observatory — Blodget's 
great hotel — Sketch of the Treasury buildings, old and new — Archi- 
tects of the departments — Rise of the departments and their organi- 
zation — Conception of the Patent-Office — The churches of the city 
— Schools — Penitentiary — Banks — Chesapeake canal — Freshets — 
Hotels — Braddock's rock — Wilkinson's proposition to stand siege — 
Capture by the British — Building of the forts in the rebellion — De- 
scription of the system — Geology of Washington — Effort to move 
the Capital in 1870 — The movement rebuked — Revival of the city — 
The board of public works , , 543 


A Record of Historical Events in the District of Columbia, 
From 1621 to 1873 585 


Social Sketches of the Old and New in Washington. 
The Burns family' and its history — Gen. Van Ness and the mausoleum 
— Disinterment of the old Remus — Story of sister Gertrude — The 
Carroll estate — Original squatters on the Capital site — Old Alexan- 
dria — The Calvert's place at Mt. Airy — Thos. Law and John Tayloe 
— Notley hall and Marshall hall — Arlington house and the Custis 
family — Brentwood — The Carrolls — Georgetown places — Sketches of 
ommissionei s— .tvualostan island — Amos Kendall's" life and tomb 



— A visit to Jefferson's place at Monticello — Great Falls and Jackson, 
the blockade runner — The Loudon Valley — Georgetown Cemetery — 
Approach to Washington City from the North— Topography— Up in 
the ibrts — The Washington monument 602 


Jobbery Coeval with Government. 
An inquiry as to whether we are more corrupt than in the early days 
of the Government — The Yazoo land swindles — Assumption of state 
debts — Trading off the Capitol for a job — Evils of the national bank 

— Investigation — Hamilton attacked — The Randall and Whitney 
case of 1795 — Baldwin and Frelinghuysen — Expulsion of Blount — 
Licentiousness proved against Alexander Hamilton — His confession— 
The first present-taker — The first breach of decorum — Incendiarism 
in 1800 — A New Hampshire judge removed in 1804 — Judge Chase's 
trial — The senior Dallas — Secret service money — Spanish pensioners 
— The whisky insurrectionists — Case of the sloop, Active — Dismal end 
of the second U. S. bank — California land frauds— Limantour — Mrs. 
Gaines' case — Description — Naval frauds during the rebellion— Over 
issue of bonds — The lobby schemes of 1873— Mileage frauds — Full 
story of the back pay swindle — Cost of running the Government 
now-a-days — A shameless Puritan member — God in the constitution 

— The remedy . . . 643 


Chief Justice Chase as a Representative Statesman. 
His life and death. 671 


The Best and Worst op Society at the Capital. 
Winks at the high, the quiet, and the queer — President Grant going 
to inauguration in 1869 — State sociables at Washington — Extrava- 
gance in dinner-giving — Shoddy in the Senate — Worldliness para- 
mount — A dinner with a great surgeon — How they got the dome 
on the Capitol with a lunch— The house of the Secretary of State 

— Funerals of state brides — Mrs. Belknap — Mrs. Corcoran — Mrs. 
Douglas — The old Seward mansion — Sumner and Fish quarrel over 
duck — Washington humor — Alkakangie — Want of a civil service to 
make good middle-class society — The Treasury girl— her song. . 678 



Excursions in the Potomac Country. 
A chapter to take breath upon — Lower necks > of Maryland — Queer 
people on the road-sides — Beautiful prospects of the city — The dark 
and bloody ground — Visit to Marlborough — Surrattsville — Revival of 
Booth's night ride after the murder — His course through lower Mary- 
land — Lewis Weichinann. — Account of his visit to Mrs. Surratt — 
How Booth crossed the Potomac — Dr. Sunderland and President 
Lincoln — Mr. Lincoln as an inventor — Booth's remains — Ride into 
Upper Maryland — The metropolitan branch railroad — Ride into Vir- 
ginia — How to go to Mt. Vernon — Reminiscences of the first and 
second Washington. 700 


Art, Letters, and Bohemians at the Capital. 
Notes on literary people who have lived at Washington — How the peo- 
ple get the news — Old time correspondents — Imported sculptors — 
Strolls in the ateliers — The pictures of the Capital — Criticism upon 
them — Crawford — Greenough — Vinnie Ream — An artist's estimate 
of tha paintings — Humors of capitaline criticism 736 


The public mind is at last exercised on the subject of schem- 
ing and jobbery. 

The Credit Mobilier investigation accomplished what many- 
years of unthanked agitation and challenge failed to do. It 
reached such eminent reputations and made such general wreck 
of political prospects and accomplishments, that every class of 
citizens — even those who came to scoff, remained beside their 
Capitol to pray. This was the first element of encouragement ; 
for it proved that in every extremity of the American nation 
there is still a public sentiment to be found, and it will rally on 
the side of good morals and the reputation of the state if it 
understands the necessity. 

The people must not be blamed if, in the great variety of 
affairs and investigations, they often look on confused and apa- 
thetic. Our government is so extensive in area and so diversi- 
fied in operations, that it requires men of state — statesmen — to 
keep its machinery in order and prevent waste, neglect, inter- 
ference, and incendiarism. No amount of mere honesty and 
good negative inclination can keep the ship of state headed 
well to the wind. A reasonable experience in civil affairs, 
education, and executive capacity are requisite, and it is when 
the accidents of war and the extremities of political parties 
bring men without these qualities to the surface that the enemy 
of public order and well regulated government seeks and finds 
his opportunity. 

Such is our present condition. It is to our noble system of 
schools and our unhampered social civilization that we owe the 
moderate capacity, even of men of accident, for public affairs. 


From the time of President Fillmore, all our Chief Magistrates 
have been of this popular growth. Mr. Lincoln proved to be 
the possessor of powers extraordinary in their combination, 
ranging from the Jesuitry of the frivolous to the depth and 
gravity of the heroic, and, at last, the tragic. He kept in view 
great objects of human performance, and showed how profoundly 
his inherited idea of the equality of rights and his belief in the 
destiny of America to protect and teach them, animated his 
conduct. He bore the sword of the country while constantly 
possessed of the ambition to preserve its nationality and expel 
slavery; his amiable nature added to these achievements the 
softness and sweetness of a personal mission, and his lofty fate 
the solemnity of a personal martyrdom. 

The elements of corruption, inseparable from human nature, 
had long existed in a more or less organized form in the United 
States, and they waxed in strength and took enormous propor- 
tions during Mr. Lincoln's administration. He was a states- 
man and kept his mind steadily upon the larger objects, preferring 
to leave the correction of incidental evils to. the administrators 
who should succeed the war. Had he been of a desponding 
spirit, and nervous and violent upon errors of omission and 
commission by the way, we might never have kept in view the 
main purposes of the war, but would have been demoralized by the 
ten thousand peculations and intrigues which marked the course 
of that extraordinary conflict. 

It is our province and the task of statesmanship in our time, 
to return along the course of those war-ridden years and take 
up their civil grievances, exhibit them clearly and correct them 
unflinchingly. If we do not do so the Union is too great for us 
and emancipation has been a mockery. 

The opportunities for gain at the public and general expense, 
had been too vast during the war to be suddenly relinquished 
at the peace. President Johnson was as honest personally as 
President Lincoln, but the division of arms was now succeeded 
by a conflict of policy in which the harpies who had studied the 
government to take advantage of it plied between both sides. 


and by the common weakness of the administration and Con- 
gress continued their work. They set up the audacious prop- 
osition that the schemes which prevailed in the war and the 
grade of taxation consequent upon it were the declared national 
policy. A large proportion of the capital and enterprise of the 
country took the same ground. The currency was maintained 
in its expanded amount, and war was even declared upon gold, • 
the standard of valuation throughout civilization. High prices 
and high wages were advocated as evidences of national happi- 
ness, and, of course, high salaries were demanded to make 
public and private conditions consistent with each other. The 
prevalence of money, work, and rank during the war were not 
suffered to relax, and congress undertook to supply artificial 
means of prosperity by laying out schemes, subsidizing and 
endowing corporations, increasing offices and commissions, and 
altering the tariff and the tax list. The victorious side in the 
wrangle about policy was soon represented in congress by a 
great number of adventurers, foreigners in the constituency 
they affected to represent, and shameless and unknown. 

At this period the third President of the new era was elected, 
a brave and victorious soldier, who was in part a pupil and 
associate of the loose notions of the period. He had a modest 
person, and this, with his historic exploits, affected the sensibil- 
ities of his countrymen, including many of the larger men in 
literature, criticism, and society, so that this personal sympathy, 
edded to the financial necessities of the time, and the well 
organized Northern sentiment of the majority of the people 
carried him again into the "White House. Whatever might 
have been the capacity or incapacity of General Grant to direct 
the law. makers and give example to the laws, he sank into a 
relatively inconspicuous place almost at the moment of his 
second inauguration by the nearly simultaneous exposure of a 
series of old and new corruptions in congress which involved 
the Vice-President of the United States, the Chairman of the 
three leading committees of Congress, the head of the Protec- 


tion School in public life, half a dozen senators and as many 
members of the House, of both parties. 

The Vice-President departing and the new Vice-President 
acceding, both complicated in the celebrated Credit Mobilier 
corruption, confronted the public gaze as actors in the same 
ceremonial with President Grant, who was waiting to deliver 
, his second inaugural address to the public. Five senators, 
/ Bogy, Casserly, Clayton, Caldwell, and Pomeroy, were at that 
moment under accusation of purchasing their seats in the 
| Senate. Three judges of the United States Courts, Delahay, 
Sherman, andTuirrell, were under impeachment or imputation 
for complicity in the Credit Mobilier intrigue. The proudest 
foreheads in the national legislature were abashed. It was a 
melancholy and disgraceful spectacle, and it saddened the capi- 
tal and cast a cloud over all the country. 

The purpose of this book is to make Washington at the pres- 
ent day visible to voters, so that they can be guided in criticism 
upon abuses such as have been related. The course of the 
chapters is purposely made discursive so that the mind can 
be carried through a variety of scenes without flagging. 



The American Capital is the only seat of government of a 
first-class power which was a thought and performance of the 
Government itself. It used to be called, in the Madisonian era, 
" the only virgin Capital in the world." 

St. Petersburg was the thought of an Emperor, but the Cap- 
ital of Russia long afterward remained at Moscow, and Peter 
the Great said that he designed St. Petersburg to be only " a 
window looking out into Europe." 

Washington City was designed to be not merely a window, 
but a whole inhabitancy in fee simple for the deliberations of 
Congress, and they were to exercise exclusive legislation over 
it. So the Constitutional Convention ordained ; and, in lesi 
than seven weeks after the thirteenth state ratified the Consti- 
tution, the place of the Capital was designated by Congress to 
the Potomac River. In six months more, the precise territory,, 
on the Potomac was defined, under the personal eye of Washing- 

The motive of building an entirely new city for the Fea al 
seat was not arbitrary, like Peter the Great's will with St. Peters- 
burg, nor fanciful, like that of the founder of Versailles... It 
was, like many of our institutions, an act of reflection suggested 
by such harsh experience as once drove the Papal head from 
Rome to Avignon, and, in our day, has withdrawn the French 
Government from Paris to Versailles. Four years before the 
Constitution was made'; Congress, while sitting at Philadelphia, 
— the largest city in the States, — had been grossly insulted by 
some of the unpaid troops of the Revolutionary War, and the 



Pennsylvania authorities showed it no protection. Congress with 
commendable dignity, withdrew to Princeton, and there, in the 
collegiate halls, Eldridge Gerry, of Massachusetts, (whose 
remains now lie in the Congressional Cemetery of Washington,) 
moved that the buildings for the use of Congress be erected 
either on the Delaware or the Potomac. 

The State of Maryland was an early applicant for the perma- 
nent seat of the Government, and, after the result at Philadel- 
phia, hastened to offer Congress its Capitol edifice and other 
accommodations at Annapolis. Congress'accepted the invita- 
tion, and therefore, it was at Annapolis that Washington sur- 
rendered his commission, in the presence of that body. The 
career of Congress at Annapolis — which was a very perfect, tidy, 
and pretty miniature city — left a good impression upon the mem- 
bers for years afterwards, and was probably not without its influ- 
* ence in making Maryland soil the future Federal District. The 
growing " Baltimore Town," which was the first place in Amer- 
ica, after the revolution, to exhibit the Western spirit of ".driv- 
ing things," appeared in the lobby and prints, as an anxious 
competitor for the award of the Capital ; and the stimulation of 
that day bore fruits in the first and only admirable patriotic 
monument raised to Washington, while Washington City was 
yet seeking to survive its ashes. With the jealousy of a neigh- 
bor, the snug port and portage settlement of Georgetown opposed 
Baltimore, and directed attention to itself as deserving the Fed- 
/ eral bestowal, and counted, not without reason, upon the influ- 
ence of the President of the United States in its behalf. 

Many other places strove for the exaggerated honor and profit 
of the Capital, and it is tradition in half-a-dozen villages of the 
country, — at Havre de Grace, Trenton, Wrightsville, Pa ; Ger- 
mantown, Pa; Williamsport, Md ; Kingston, N. Y., and others — 
that the seat of government was at one time nearly their prize. 
Two points, however, gained steadily on the rest, — New York 
and some indefinite spot on the Potomac. The Eastern Con- 
gressmen, used to the life of towns, and little in love with what 
they considered the barbaric plantation life of the South, desired 


to assemble amongst urbane comforts, in a place already estab- 
lished. Provincialism, prejudice, and avarice all played their 
part in the contest ; and, in that day of paper money, it was 
thought by many that the currency must follow the Capital. 
Hence, according to Jefferson, whose accounts on this head do 
not read very clearly, the financial problems of the time were 
offset by the selection of the Capital. Hamilton deferred to the 
South the Federal City, and had his Treasury policy adopted 
in exchange for it. When Jefferson and Hamilton came to 
write about each other, we are reminded of the adage that, 
when the wine is in, the wit is out ; but it is agreeable to reflect 
that they were both accordant with Washington on this point, 
and Jefferson had great influence over the young Capital's for- 

Congress made a reasonable decision on the subject. The 
comforts of a home were to be accorded at Philadelphia for ten 
years, to quiet Philadelphia, and meantime a new place was to 
be planned on the Potomac River, and public edifices erected 
upon it. The actual selection and plan were to be left to a com- 
mission selected by the President ; and thus the Federal City 
is an executive act, deliberated between Washington and private 

Mortifying, indeed, was the early work of making the Capi- 
tal City for the three Commissioners, whose ranks were renew- 
ed as one grew despondent and another enraged. 

It was July 16, 1790, that President Washington approved 
the bill of six sections which directed the acceptance of ten 
miles square " for the permanent seat of the Government," 
" between the mouths of the Eastern Branch and Conogo- 
cheague." The bill had become a law by a close vote in both 
Houses, and the Capital might have been placed, under the 
terms of it, at the Great Falls, or near the future battle-site of 
Ball's Bluff, or under the presence of the Sugar-Loaf Mountain, 
in the vale of the River Antietam, It is possible that Wash- 
ington himself, who held discretionary control over the Com- 
missioners, was not firmly of the opinion that the future city 


should stand on tide-water ; for he had previously written let- 
ters, in praise of the thrifty German country beyond the Mon- 
ocacy, in Maryland. But the matter of transportation and pas- 
sage was greatly dependent, in those days, upon navigable 
water-courses, and it is probable that, when the law passed, the 
spot of the city was already appointed. 

About five years before selecting the site for the Federal Cap- 
ital, Washington made a canoe upon the Monocacy River, and, 
descending to the Potomac, made the exploration of the whole 
river, from the mountains to tide-water,, in order to test the 
feasibility of lock and dam navigation. It is apparent, from 
his letters to Arthur Young, the Earl of Buchan, and others, 
that he was aware that the value of his estates on tide- 
water was declining, and lie wanted both the city and the canal 
contiguous to them. A noble man might well, however, have 
such an attachment to the haunts of his youth as to wish to see 
it beautified by a city. 

The bill was passed while Congress sat in New York ; six 
months later, on January 24, 1791, Washington, at Philadel- 
phia, made proclamation that, " After duly examining and 
weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the several situ- 
ations within the limits," he had thrown the Federal territory 
across the Potomac from Alexandria. 

The site of the new district was not entirely the wilderness 
it has been represented. The Potomac had been explored up 
to tiiis point, and as far as the Little Falls above, by Henry 
Fleet, one hundred and sixty years before. Fleet was the first 
civilized being who ever looked upon the site of Washington, 
and his manuscript story of ascending the river was never pub- 
lished until 1871. When Leonard Calvert arrived in the Poto- 
mac, in 1634, he went up to confer with this adventurous fur- 
trader, who had been many years in the country. 

" The place," said Fleet, evidently alluding to the contracted 
Potomac just above Georgetown, " is, without all question, the 
most healthful and pleasant place in all this country, and most 
convenient for habitation ; the air temperate in Summer and 


not violent in Winter. It aboundetli with all manner of fish. 
The Indians in one night commonly will catch thirty sturgeons 
in a place where the river is not over twelve fathoms broad. 
And, for deer, buffaloes, bears, turkeys, the woods do swarm 
with them, and the soil is exceedingly fertile ; but, above this 
place, the country is rocky and mountainous, like Canada. 
* * * * We had not rowed above three miles but we might 
hear the Falls to roar." 

The early settlers of Maryland and Virginia kept to the nav- 
igable streams, and the earliest pioneers of the terrace country 
of Maryland were Scotch and Scotch-Irish, some Germans, and 
a few C atholics. 

Georgetown and Bellhaven (or Alexandria) were rather old 
places when the surveys were made for Washington City, and the 
former had been laid out fully forty years. The army of Gen- 
eral Bracldock had landed at Alexandria, and a large portion 
of his army marched from Rock Creek, as the infant George- 
town was then called, for Fredericktown and the Ohio. As 
early as 1763, the father of Gen. James Wilkinson purchased a 
tract of " five hundred acres of land on the Tyber-andthe Poto- 
mac, which probably comprehended the President's house ;" 
but the purchaser's wife objected to a removal to such an isola- 
ted spot, and the property was transferred to one Thomas Johns. 
In 1775, the young Wilkinson " shouldered a firelock at George- 
town, in a company commanded by a Rhode Island Quaker, 
Thomas Richardson," in which also the future Gen. Lingan 
was a subaltern, and this full company drilled for the Revolu- 
tionary struggle " on a small spot of table-land hanging over 
Rock Creek, below the upper bridge." As Wilkinson lived 
" thirty miles in the up-country, and was always punctual at 
parade," we may infer that Georgetown was the most consider- 
able place in all this quarter of Maryland. As early as 1779, 
William Wirt, whose parents resided at Bladensburg, went to " a 
Classical Academy at Georgetown ;" and he and others long 
bore remembrance of the passage of the French and American 
armies from north to south oyer the ferry at that place, of 


encampment at Kalorama Hill, and wagons loaded with specie 
crossing Rock Creek. Gen. Washington also designated 
Georgetown as one of the three great places of deposit for mil- 
itary stores ; and so important was Alexandria that Charles 
Lee, in his plan of treason, had proposed to cut the Northern 
. States from the South by occupying it with a permanent detach- 
ment of British troops, who should keep open the ferries between 
Alexandria and Annapolis, and, by menacing the rich farms of 
the German settlers in the up-country, compel them to starve 
out the Patriot armies. 

The port-town of Bladensburg was now just upon the decline, 
and the period had come when the interior parts of Maryland, 
Pennsylvania, and Virginia were showing forth their promises. 
Maryland had contained considerably more population than 
New York during the Revolutionary War, and we may conceive 
Georgetown and Alexandria to have been amongst the best grade 
of secondary towns at that period. They stood, as now, in -full 
sight of each other ; and the ridgy basin and lower- terraces 
between them, where the Federal City was to rise, presented a 
few good farms tilled by slaves, and was already marked for a 
couple of rival settlements before the Commissioners- adopted it. 

One of these prospective settlements was located near the 
present National Observatory, and took the name of Hamburg," 
afterward Funkstown, the other was projected near the present 
Navy- Yard, and was named after the proprietor of the estate, 
Carrollsburg. At any rate, there were enough people on the site 
to give the Commissioners a great deal of trouble with the; 
bickering and rapacity ; and it is likely that the idea got abroad 
in advance of the official choice, that here was to be the mighty 
Capital, and therefore lands and lots had been matters of con- 
siderable speculation. 

Few who had passed the ferry at Georgetown, and beheld the 
sight from the opposite hills of Virginia, could fail to have 
marked the breadth of the picture, and the strong colors in the 
ground and the environing wall of wooded heights, which rolled 
back against the distant sky, as if to enclose a noble arena of 


landscape, fit for the supreme deliberations of a continental 

Dropping down from those heights by stately gradations, over 
several miles, to a terrace of hills in the middle ground, the 
foreground then divided, parallel with the eye, into a basin and 
a plateau. The plateau on the right showed one prominent but 
not precipitous hill, with an agreeable slope, at the back of 
which the Potomac reached a deep, supporting arm, while 
around the base meandered a creek that changed course when 
half-way advanced, and then flowed to the left, parallel with 
knolls, straight through the plain or basin, — defining to the 
inspired eye, as plainly as revelation, the avenues, grades, and 
commanding positions of a city. 

As such, Washington must have builded it up in his own 
formative mind ; for many a time he had passed it in review. 
He did not require to take note of the shiftless slave farms for 
which the ground had been already broken. Where yonder 
orchard grew, he saw the Executive Mansion, with its grounds 
extending down to the river-side cottage of that curmudgeon 
Scotch planter who was to be among the last to say words of 
impudence to the father ol the city. Where the pleasant hill 
swelled up to the clear skies in the night, Washington saw the 
spiritual outlines of the fair white Capitol, soon to be embodied 
there. Flowing down into the plain, and extending back over 
the hill of the Capital, he realized the lower and the upper city, 
on which a circle of villas in the higher background should 
some day look down ; and all the undulating space between the 
blue heights of Georgetown, from the river back to the table- 
land, should, by another century, smoke with population, wor- 
ship with bells, and march with music to honor the founder of 
this virgin Capital. 

Having named the three civil Commissioners to whom Con- 
gress — wiser than Congresses of a later period — committed the 
business of Capital-making, Washington set out from Philadel- 
phia, to confer with them on the spot. 

It is characteristic of Maryland roads in those days, in March, 


that the President drove down the Eastern shore of Maryland, 
instead- of crossing the Susquehanna, and was ferried over from 
Rockhall to Annapolis. At the latter place, he rested all Sat- 
urday, receiving hospitality ; and, on Sunday, continued his 
journey by Queen Ann to Bladensburg, where he dined and slept. 
Next morning he took breakfast at Suter's tavern, a one-story 
frame in Georgetown, — having occupied one week in fatiguing 
and perilous travel from Philadelphia. 

From the heights of Georgetown, Washington could look 
over the half-uncultivated tract, where the commissioners had 
plotted a part of their surveys for the Federal City, and Penn- 
sylvania Avenue was then a path through an older swamp from 
Georgetown to Carrollsburg. 

On Tuesday, a misty and disagreeable day, Washington rode 
out at seven o'clock, with David Stuart, Daniel Carroll, and 
Thomas Johnson, the three Commissioners, and with Mr. 
Andrew Ellicott and Major L'Enfant, who were surveying the 
grounds and projecting the streets of the city. " I derived no 
great satisfaction," says Washington, " from the review," and 
this we can readily suppose from, our present knowledge of 
what might be the condition of the soil of the District in the 
spring of the year, on a damp day, with the landholders of 
Georgetown and Carrollsburg contending with each other by 
the way, with, the numerous uninvited idlers pressing after, 
and the crude and tangled nature of the region. 

That night at six o'clock, Washington endeavored to con- 
trive an accommodation between the Georgetowners and 
Carrollsburgers, and it was probably at this time that he 
had reason to designate Davy Burns, the Scotch farmer and 
father to the future heiress of the city, as " The obstinate Mr. 
Burns." He dined that night at Colonel Forrest's, with a large 
company. The next day, the contending landholders agreed to 
Washington's suggestions, and entered into articles to surren- 
der half their lots when surveyed ; and, having given some of 
his characteristically precise instructions to the engineers and 
others, the President crossed the Potomac in the ferry-boat, 


his equipage following, and dined at Alexandria, and slept that 
night at Mount Vernon, his homestead. 

There is a statue of Washington in one of the public circles 
of the Capital City, representing him on a terrified steed doing 
battle-duty ; but a local treatment of the subject would have 
been more touching and thoughtful ; the veteran of war and 
politics, worn down with the friction of public duty and rising 
party asperity, riding through the marshes and fields of Wash- 
ington, on the brink of his sixtieth year, to give the foundling 
government he had reared an honorable home. Could a finer 
subject appeal to the artist or to the municipality of Washing- 
ton ; the virgin landscape of the Capital, and this greatest of 
founders of cities since Romulus, surrounded by the two engi- 
neers, the three commissioners, and certain courteous denizens, 
and seeking to reason the necessities of the state and the pride 
of the country into the flinty soul of Davy Burns, that successor 
of Dogberry, — for he is said to have been a magistrate ? 

The new city was one of the plagues of General Washington 
for the remainder of his days, because he was very sensitive as 
to its success ; and it had to suffer the concentrated fire of crit- 
icism and witticism, domestic and foreign, as well as more 
serious financial adversity. He never beheld any of the glory 
of it ; and the fact that he had been responsible for it, and had 
settled it in the neighborhood of his estates, probably weighed 
somewhat upon 'his spirits in the midst of that light repartee 
which a grave nature cannot answer. Greater is he who keep- 
eth his temper than he who buildeth a city. That Washington 
did both well, the latter century can answer better than the 
former. The extravagant plan of Major L' Enfant has not been 
vindicated until now, when the habitations of one hundred 
thousand people begin to develop upon the plane of his magnifi- 
cence. The neighbors of General Washington had no capacity 
in that early day to congregate in cities, and the Federal site 
had to wait for a gregarious domination and a period of com- 
parative wealth. It is yet to be tested whether the orna- 
mentation of the city is to conduce to an equally Republican 



rule with that of more squalid times ; for, New York excepted, 
Washington is now the deadest city in America. 

The trustees of the Federal city in whom at law nominally 
reposed the conveyed property, were Thomas Beall and Joh*i 
M. Gautt. The chief owners of the site were David Burns, 
Samuel Davidson, Notley Young, and Daniel Carroll. 

The cost of the ground on which Washington City stands 
was truly insignificant as compared with the remarkable expen- 
ditures of the years 1871, '72, '73. 

The few property-holders agreed to convey to the government 
out of their farm-lands as much ground as would be required 
for streets, avenues, public-building-sites, reservations, areas, 
etc., and to surrender, also, one-half of the remaining land, to 
be sold by the United States as it might deem fit, — receiving, 
however, at the rate of twenty-five pounds per acre for the 
public grounds, but nothing for the streets. In other words, 
the government through its three commissioners, was to plot 
out the Federal City in the first place, delineating all the 
grounds required for buildings and reservations, and surveying 
the parts to be inhabited.- It was then to divide these inhab- 
itable lots equally between itself and the landholders, and sell 
its own lots when, and on what prices and terms, it pleased, 
and, out of the proceeds of such sales, to make its payments 
for the national grounds and reservations. 

In this way the government took seventeen 'great parcels of 
ground out of the general plan, such as now surround the 
Capitol, the President's House, etc., and the same amounted 
to five hundred and forty-one acres. At sixty-six dollars and 
sixty-six cents per acre, this yielded to the farm-holders thirty- 
six thousand ninety-nine dollars, — a very small sum indeed if 
we compute interest upon it, and subtract principal and inter- 
est from the present value of the ground. 

The. building lots assigned to the government numbered ten 
thousand one hundred and thirty-six. The amount of sales of 
these lots, up to the year 1834, was seven hundred forty-one 
thousand twenty-four dollars and forty-five cents, and an assess- 


ment upon the unsold lots, made at that time, brought the 
government's share up to eight hundred fifty thousand dollars. 
Besides this handsome speculation, the State of Virginia voted 
to the government the sum of one hundred twenty thousand 
dollars, and the State of Maryland seventy-two thousand dol- 
lars, as a concession for planting the great city on their bor- 
ders. With equal courtesy, the government gave away a great 
many lots to such institutions as the Columbian and George- 
town Colleges, and the Washington and St. Vincents Orphan 
Asylums ; and it also squandered many lots upon less worthy 
solicitors, giving a depot site away to a railway company in 
1872, which was worth several hundred thousand dollars. 

In the entire area included under the above agreement, there 
were seven thousand one hundred acres, with a circumference 
of fourteen miles. The uneven plain of the city extended four 
miles along the river, and averaged three-quarters of a mile in 
breadth. The only streams were the Tiber, which divided the 
plain nearly equally ; James' Creek, emptying into the mouth 
of the Eastern Branch ; and Slash Run, emptying into Rock 
Creek. These streams still preserve the names they received 
long before the capital was pitched. The first dedicatory act 
was to fix the corner-stone at Jones' Point, near Alexandria. 
James Muir preached the sermon, Daniel Carroll and David 
Stuart placed the stone, and the Masons of Alexandria per- 
formed their mystic rites. 

A glimpse of the United States as it was at that day (1791) 
will complete the impression we may derive on thus revisiting 
the nearly naked site of the "Federal Seat." Virginia led all 
the states with nearly seven hundred fifty thousand people ; 
Pennsylvania and New York combined did little more than 
balance Virginia with four hundred thirty-four thousand and 
three hundred forty thousand respectively. North Carolina 
outweighed Massachusetts with three hundred ninety-four thou- 
sand to the Bay State's three hundred seventy-nine thousand. 
All the rest of New England displayed about six hundred thou- 
sand population. South Carolina and Georgia with three 


hundred thirty thousand people together, were inferior to 
Maryland and Delaware together by fifty thousand. There 
were only two "Western States, Kentucky and Tennessee, whose 
one hundred eight thousand people lacked seventy-five thousand 
of the population of New Jersey and altogether, four millions 
of Americans were watching with various human expressions 
the puzzle of the capital town. Such was the showing of the cen- 
sus of 1790, but by the year 1800, when the infant city was 
occupied by its government, the country was one third greater 
in inhabitants. It was not until 1820 that any state passed 
Virginia, but in 1830 both New York and Pennsylvania had 
bidden her good-bye. 

The capital was staked out the year after Franklin's death, 
thirty years before the death of George III, in Goethe's fifty- 
second year and Schiller's thirty-second, sixteen years before 
the "first steamboat, tw«i*fears before Louis XVI was guillo- 
tined, when Louis Phillipe was in his nineteenth year, while 
Count Rochambeau was commander of the French army, two 
years after Robespierre became head deputy, five years after the 
death of Frederick the Great, while George Stephenson was a 
boy of ten, the year subsequent to the death of Aden Smith, 
the year John Wesley and Mirabeau died, two years before 
Brissot was guillotined, in Napoleon's twenty-second year, 
the year before Lord Nott died, the year Morse was born and 
Mirabeau was buried, in the third year of the London Times, 
just after Lafayette had been the most powerful man in France, 
three years before the death of Edward Gibbon, while Warren 
Hastings was on trial, in Burke's sixty-first year and Fox's 
forty-second and Pitt's thirty-second, three years after the death 
of Chatham, in the Popedom of Pius VI, while Simon Bolivar 
was a child eight years old, the year Cowper translated Homer, 
and in Burns' prime. 



What part of the government most requires correction, the 
executive or the legislative ? 

I do not think it will be a hasty answer to give the palm for 
corruption, looseness, and disorder to Congress. Perhaps it 
it would not be saying too much to add that this has been the 
fact ever since the government went into operation in 1789. 

We came into the world with our teeth cut so far as party spirit 
went. The American people have changed much less since 
the colonial days than one would think, considering the enor- 
mous infusion of European material amongst us. In. several 
of the colonies Contests between the legislative power and the 
royal or provincial gove-rnors were rife for half a century before 
our common patriotic insurrection. Massachusetts, Vermont, 
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the Car- 
olinas bore the same internal political aspect twenty years 
before Lexington that they did twenty years after Yorktown. 
The politician is almost invariably identical with the congress- 
man. He reflects in the government the condition of the 
society, and particularly the character of the fraction which 
delegated him. In some cases he may be a commanding, sug- 
gestive spirit, with sufficient estate or personal following to 
impress himself upon the day and carry messages ahead of the 
society which he represents or the Congress to which he comes. 
But the representative system is truly so denominated in that 
the average Congressman lives near the level of the con- 
stituency, and in too many cases his real morality is beneath 
it. A very small proportion of voters do the work of the con- 



stituency, and it is to the interest of the politician that this 
number be as small as convenient. His personal faction is 
generally made up of those who represent the positive wants 
of the constituency, in his day, and such elements of the con- 
stituency never propose to give the nation as much as they can 
take out of its common hopper. Hence what ought to be a 
deliberative body of the whole country is a succession of indi- 
viduals bent on avaricious errands. One wants a new section 
added to the tariff and a gorgeous post-office building to orna- 
ment his principal town. Another is in pursuit of a railroad 
project which it is to the interest of a few rich men to have, and 
these in turn have got control of the county papers and give 
the intention the appearance of a public want. A third lives 
in a ship-building district where there are a great many hulls 
lying up with no place for them on the high seas, and it is an 
object of this Congressman to set back the maritime ideas of 
the world so that those ■ vessels can recover supremacy, or if 
this cannot be done the Congressman is bound to make the 
whole nation in some way pay back to the vessel-owners in his 
constituency as much money as if ,they were fairly earning it. 
A fourth Congressman is desperately bent upon bringing into 
the Union the territory adjacent to his own state, with the 
promise that if he succeed he or his brother-in-law (for brothers- 
in-law constitute a formidable kinship in our country) will )>e 
sent to the Senate from the new State. A fifth Congressman 
has no other real constituency than a bank or a coalition of 
contractors in public works. A sixth comes from a district 
where some one nationality, as the German, or Scandinavian, 
or Irish prevails Over all others, and he demagogues to this 
alone. In some of the larger cities, where there may be two, 
three, four, or five Congressmen a jjool is made by the municipal 
ring regnant, and the seats at Washington are given out for 
money, friendship, admiration, gratitude, or in deference to some 
class, national, or religious influence. Of course the represen- 
tative system is not faulty in any of these cases, for what sends 
the Congressman to Washington generally directs attention 


and often enterprise in the constituency. The consequence is 
that the American Congress, except in great national emergen- 
cies, is an aggregation of selfish atoms. The larger operations 
of the country, which are conducive to its ideal and serious 
glory, are every day speared through and through by some- 
body who would spare no energy to pluck enough from the 
common purse to ornament his particular district. 

Mr. Holman, of Indiana, gave an instance of this at the close 
of the last Congress when he rose in his place and objected to 
an appropriation to make observations on the transit of Venus 
in the year 1874. Mr. Holman, however, was animated by a 
narrow desire to save money to his tax paying constituency. 
What concerned everybody, and learning in particular, was of 
no concern to his voters as he had apprehended them. But 
had his little town of Aurora been omnibussed with a dozen other 
towns for a grand Marine Hospital or District -Court building, 
Mr. Holman would not have raised his voice, even had he 
known that there were buildings already more than sufficient 
for the purpose ; the country newspapers of both parties would 
pounce upon him instantly and demand that he be sac- 
rificed because he would not be a party to plundering 
the general treasury in aid of the vanity of his neighbor- 
hood. Where have we an unselfish constituency in the United 
States ? And how many broad-minded men of state can exist 
in Congress under the nature of American constituencies ? The 
fault is more than half with the constituency, and the course 
of the constituency, as we have always had it in America, may 
be called provincialism. To four-fifths of all' our journals pro- 
vincialism sets the key. In the same proportion runs criticism 
on public affairs at the fireside circle, in the average pulpit, and 
in the town-meeting. 

The few institutions which directly appertain to the Gen- 
eral Government, and are the property, more or less directly, of 
the whole nation, have been the subject of attack ever since 
the Government was instituted ; — West Point, the Naval School, 
the Regular Army, Washington City, the National Observatory, 


a responsible and durable civil service, the public navy yards, 
the public officers which do not lie within the constituency, and 
all" such organic matters. Private ship-builders inevitably 
denounce the building of naval vessels in the public navy yards, 
although it would seem to every reasoning man that the officers 
who were to sail the ships and trust their lives to them and 
fight with them ought to be the best constructors. But woe to 
the Congressman from the banks of the Delaware, the Kenne- 
bec, or the East River who casts his vote in favor of the per- 
formance of this general function by the legitimate power. As 
a consequence we have a navy that decays every six years, 
built at the private ship-yards of green timber with hasty car- 
pentry and all the appurtenances of a job. In the height of the 
war a ship-yard lobby crowded Congress, and everybody remem- 
berc how a flighty private engineer at Brooklyn had sufficient 
influence to compel a vessel constructed at the Government 
yard to be tied at a wharf beside his own and the revolutions 
of the engine in the two vessels counted as a determination of 
speed. That vessel with which the private ship-yard challenged 
the Government boat to a stationary trial of speed is now a fish- 
factory near Greenport, Long Island, and was sold for little 
more than the price of a laborer's frame dwelling. And yet 
at the time her contractors called everybody in the opposition 
atrocious names, his Congressmen stood up for this experimental 
constituent against all the naval engineers in the world, and the 
Government was plundered of ' the money as truly as if the 
builder of the ship had been a traitor to his country and had 
sunk an American vessel on the seas. 

For reasons such as I have mentioned Congress and the 
Bureau officers of the Government . have produced very unlike 
exponents. A Bureau officer, by the nature of his duties, grows 
conservative, methodical, and reticent, and sometimes takes upon 
himself a natural dignity highly offensive to the Congressman 
who rushes up with a letter from Jones, who has the chief saw- 
mill in the Wabash district and demands within five minutes 
to know some secret, the revelation of which might be a breach 


of official etiquette, or which at any rate, should require a 
decent consideration before the exposure be made. 

In the Bureaus of the United States are some of the most 
accomplished officials to be found ill the Governments of civil- 
ization. It is really extraordinary i ) see how the old fashioned 
salaries will retain men of often exceptional rank in the public 
service. This is the case at present as truly as it was at the 
beginning of the Government, which in the hands of private 
inventors would become monopolies and used to make the State 
pay tribute. The Patent office of the United States was first 
organized by a one thousand five hundred dollar clerk, — the \ 
same Dr. Thornton who drew the elevations of the present cap- ' 
ital and impressed the form of it upon the whole history of 
America. / 

In the Coast survey a mere pressman invented the impOrtiie ■ 
process of separating the steel and copper plates by an elecftts 
galvanic deposit of nitrate of silver, so as to give the fines, 
impression. The establishment of the National Observatory 
was a suggestion of a clerk, Lambert, who received but ' one 
thousand five hundred dollars, for laboring nearly twenty years, 
making frequent memorials, lobbying socially and taking the 
longitude of the Capitol as early as 1822. The Observatory 
itself might never have come into existence but for the action ot 
a naval lieutenant, now Eear Admiral Goldsborough, who smug- 
gled into existence under the name of a depot of charts and 
instruments, the nucleus ot the present institution, which is 
comparable to Greenwich, and is now being provided with a 
refractory telescope superior in size to any in the world. But 
even here the contractor makes his appearance, for this telescope 
must be of American manufacture, although the object-glass 
had to be cast in the rough at Birmingham, England. The 
publisher of the Congressional Globe, — the man who made the 
enterprise a success, self sustaining, and kept it in existence 
for a quarter of a century — was John C. Rives, who was merely 
a clerk in the treasury at one thousand two hundred dollars 



salary when Francis P. Blair, Six, — who had no business man- 
agement adequate to the task^-discovered him by accident 

The Post Office Department as we see it in our time energized 

and so comprehensive and thorough that if our paper comes 

three hours late we make complaint, was the development of 

the clerical force and owes its vigor to Amos Kendall who was 

successively country postmaster, clerk, and auditor. In the 

Capitol building there is an assistant clerk with a salary of 

three thousand dollars a year, who has collated, edited, and 

indexed, and made a dissertation on parliamentary law which 

has become the standard book on this subject throughout the 

United States. 

1 Such are examples of a few quiet men in the public service 

Wi vhose names come to mind. In these Departments it may be 

" erj; i that honesty is the rule and intrigue the exception. It is 

lnnu^ £ rue ^ ia t even with the present grade of salaries many of 

y a Jnese men satisfy their wants, educate their families and gener- 

c ally die possessed of some little property which will enable their 

families to live for a time without straits. The little buggy or 

carry-all and pony of the clerk is nearly as common in our streets 

as the coach and pair of the gorgeous Senator whp.has just struck 

oil or watered his Galena. 

The general rise of real estate and the increase of local taxa- 
tion are fast breaking up American homes, and the era is not 
distant when life in apartments must be the rule of American as 
of European cities for people of moderate incomes. The clerk 
of the class I have named often submits to what is now called 
the privations of country-life in order to keep his roof-tree sep- 
arate and have his family around him. On the heights back of 
the city is a settlement of cozy cottages, many of them built of 
the old hospital lumber which was plentiful here just after the 
war, and this village, which bears the name of Mount Pleasant, 
goes by the name of Clerks ville,— a pretty word, and if public 
service were held in the consideration that it might be,. would 
politics allow, the name would convey a pleasant sense to the 
ear and the mind. Another town has sprung up across the 


Eastern Branch which is set down as Howardsville, named after 
General Howard. Here also quite a number of clerks have 
betaken themselves, and it is agreeable when one rides out in 
the morning to see them quietly trudging along at eight o'clock 
to walk three miles to the Treasury. One of these Howardsville 
clerks has already got a name in American" historical literature." 
I mean Edward D. Neill, the author of the History of Minnesota, 
and to the credit of Senator Ramsay — our present consul at 
the city of Dublin — while President's clerk and chaplain at 
Washington and living on the grounds across the Eastern 
branch Mr. Neill collated from original papers the colonial his- 
tory of Maryland under the name of " Terra Mariae," and a his- 
tory of the London Company, which answers the same purpose 
for Virginia. While in Dublin he has published from entirely 
original data " the English Colonization of America during the 
Seventeenth Century." This latter book in several respects 
shows Mr. Bancroft and the more presumptuous historians of 
the country to be at fault as in tjie case of Pocahontas, whom 
Bancroft describes as having been wedded by " an amiable enthu- 
siast who daily, hourly, and, as it were, in his very sleep had 
heard a voice crying in his ears that he should strive to make 
this young Indian maiden a Christian." So says our minister 
at Berlin, — but our consul at Dublin shows, from the pages of 
the London company's transactions, that Rolfe was a married 
man when he wedded Pocahontas, and that after his death 
there was a white widow and her children besides the son he 
had by Pocahontas asking support from the Company. In view 
of this development it is somewhat amusing to see one of the 
great panels in the rotunda of the Capitol covered with a depic- 
tion of the second act of matrimony by this apostolic bigamist. 
Whatever corruption exists in the Bureaus at Washington 
will be found to be sustained by those arms of the service which 
come most frequently into contact with the politicians and Con- 
gressmen. The Land office and the Interior Department con- 
tain many efficient men, but the belief is current that railroad 
Congressmen have corrupted some of these, and when the first 


shilling passes stealthily into the official's palm half the journey 
to vice is made already. In the Treasury Department corrup- 
tion exists almost wholly where Congressmen control the appoint- 
ments, as in the outer revenue offices and in the Custom Houses 
of the sea-board cities. But in the Treasury building at Wash- 
ington there is an appearance of industry, method, and order 
which disarms suspicion, and when the visitor becomes acquainted 
with many of the heads of bureaus he will discover men of 
remarkable faculties and acquirements receiving quite ordinary 
but still sufficient salaries. The venerable Treasurer of the 
United States, General F. E. Spinner, preserves the respect 
even of Congress to such an extent that when defalcations have 
occurred in his office they have been made good in the appro- 
priation bills without party division and without lobbying. 

The Comptroller of the currency at present, whose name is 
an antique combination — John Jay Knox — is an official of the 
very highest grade, and although a young man, is perhaps as 
fully informed in monetary ^questions as any authority in an 
equally responsible position in any contemporary government. 
While Deputy Comptroller, with a salary of three thousand 
dollars, he prepared a mint and coinage bill which was a mar- 
vel of exactness, research, and perspicuity, and he was able, 
notwithstanding fierce local opposition, to make it a law of the 
country, so that the national mint will hereafter be directed 
from the Capital, and not made an ornamental station on a 
side-track for the provincial benefit of Philadelphia. Mr. 
Knox was also cashier of a bank when, perceiving opportunities 
for a more influential and intellectual career at Washington, 
he resigned and took a subordinate position in the Comptroller's 
Bureau. He had an indirect influence in bringing out the 
State of Virginia under good government, by making Gilbert 
Walker, his class-fellow at college, President of the Norfolk 
National Bank, a place which brought Walker forward and 
enabled him to make the race for governor with success. Mr. 
Knox's predecessor was loose or unfortunate in the selection 
of his examiners, and some ugly developments were made after 


the failure of some of the banks. When Mr. Hulburd retired 
a regular mob race was made for the vacant position about 
which there should not have been a particle of hesitation in the 
President's mind, for the next in succession was known to be 
the best qualified of all the candidates. However, civil service 
prevailed in this instance, and the new Comptroller soon demon- 
strated his executive courage by sending his examiner to inspect 
the affairs of all the banks in the District of Columbia which, 
owing their charters to congress, came within the sphere of his 
administration; showed that the Freedmen's Bank, which 
stands at the apex of the system of savings banks organ- 
ized for the benefit of the emancipated laborers of the 
South, had been squandering its money on mortgages around 
the capital city to such an extent that but seven thousand dol- 
lars surplus out of three or four million appeared on its balance 
sheet. The ignorance of the^ majority of the depositors and the 
distance of the branch banks from the central bank prevented 
a run on this institution, but the warning was not without its 
lesson. Meantime a savings bank kept by a private person 
named Roth was shown, to the astonishment of everybody, to 
possess above one million dollars deposits and little or no sur- 
plus. The report of the examiner brought the town around the 
ears of this money-lender, and in the space of two days nearly 
three thousand dollars were drawn out of its coffers by the 
depositors and he had to hypothecate his bonds, mortgages, 
etc., to meet the run. This prompt exhibition of vigilance and 
discipline might have tumbled Mr. Knox out of his place had 
it not been that his social independence had meantime become 
sudh that his nerve was not that of a starveling. Had he delayed 
until some of these saving institutions, keeping their true con- 
dition a secret, and playing Wall Street with their deposits, 
fail|ed and so started a series of explosions to consume the earn- 
ings of the poor and make a financial panic, he could hardly 
have been more hounded than by these pawnbrokers who abhor 
in general anything of investigation or exposure The savings 
banks of the United States have more capital than the National 


Banks of the country. Thus it would seem that the poor are 
stronger than the rich but unfortunately the rich obtain all the 
influence which the capital of the poor can give by its use. The 
Comptroller of the currency has uniformly discouraged the 
attachment of a savings department to national banks, and he 
is of the opinion that the principle of savings banks is much 
abused in all parts of the country and particularly in the West, 
where the most reckless operators often avail themselves of the 
enormous savings of the poor by means of charters lobbied through 
the legislatures or brought on the street. Some of the savings 
banks of New England are quite differently managed, and Mr. 
Knox instances one, I think at Newburyport, which had four 
million dollars deposits but was so well methodized and in such 
conservative management that it cost only about two thousand 
dollars a year to do all the clerical work of the bank. 



According to the whole of many authorities and a part of 
all, the city of Washington itself was a scheme and the public 
buildings severally were sown in Corruption. That they have - 
been raised in incorruption, however, is clear to the cheerful, 
patriotic mind; for the Capitol is the ornament in some manner 
of nearly every American dwelling. The White House is the 
most beautiful building in the world to a politician aspiring 
toward it. Thousands of people would be glad to get as much 
as a hand in the Treasury or even a name in the Pension office. 

These buildings make a continuous romance in respect to 
their design, construction, and personal associations. In their 
day they were esteemed the noblest edifices on the continent, 
and educed praise even from such censorious strangers as Mrs. 
Trollope. To this day the Capitol and President's house 
remain as they were exteriorly, the same in style and propor- 
tions, and the additions to the Capitol have been made consistent 
with the old elevation. The public is better satisfied with the 
Capitol from year to year, and many men of culture and travel 
even prefer the old freestone original edifice to the spacious 
and costly marble wings. The President's House has lost 
somewhat of its superiority as a residence, owing to the pro- 
gress made in household comforts during the last half century, 
but it is still admired by the visitor for the extent, harmony, 
and impressiveness of its saloons. Both buildings and the city 
as well invite at this day our inquisitiveness as to how the 
young republic became posssesed of architects and engineers of 
capacity equal to such ample and effective constructions. 



The material for this inquiry is to be found in the journals 
and letter books of the early commissioners of the Federal City, 
which are kept on the crypt floor of the Canitol and are partly 
indexed. The pergonal story of the eany architects must be 
obtained by family tradition and partly by recollection. The 
printed documents of congress continue the story of those con- 
structions to our own day, but many of them are rare and some 
missing, because the Capitol has been three times devastated 
by fire which twice chose the library as the point ol attack. 

Let us first note the lives of the planners of the city itself. 

They assembled at Georgetown with tents, horses, and 
laborers, and proceeded to plot the city upon the site, while the 
commissioners, acting for the executive, raised and supplied 
the money, dealt with the owners of the ground and negotiated 
with quarrymen, carters, and boat owners. Every step was a 
matter of delicacy, and conflicts were frequent between all par- 
ties. A high degree of personal independence prevailed in the 
late colonies and in military, political, and professional life, 
amounting in many cases to sensitiveness and jealousy. 

The commissioners had little consonance of temperament 
with the professional men, many of whom.were.* foreigners, and 
both had reason to dislike the natives who began by craving the 
boon of the city, and ended by showing all the forms of queru- 
lousness and discontent which rise from excited avarice. 

First in consideration is the man out of whose mind and art 
were drawn the design of Washington city as we find it still. 
1 . r J Peter Charles L'Enfant was born in «France,£7557 and made a 
17 • Lieutenant in the French provincial forces. Touched at an 
early period in the American revolution with the spirit of the 
American Colonies and the opportunities afforded in the new 
world for a young officer and engineer he tendered his services 
in the latter capacity to the United States in the autumn of 1777. 
He received his wish and the appointment of Captain of Engi- 
neers February 18, 1778. At the siege of Savannah he was 
wounded and left on the field of battle. After c ire he took a 
position in the army under the immediate eye f Washington 

l'enfant's biography. 49 

and was promoted Major of Engineers May 2, 1873. Hence 
the rank with which he descends to history. 

At the close of ft°- Revolution L'Enfant commended himself 
to Jefferson who almost monopolized t^e artistic taste and 
knowledge of the first administration, and as the project for a 
Federal city developed L'Enfant was brought into very close 
relations with President Washington. The artistic and the 
executive mind rarely run parallel, however, and very soon 
"Washington heard with indignation that L'Enfant, enamored 
of his plan of the city, had refused to let it be used by the Com- 
missioners as an incitement and directory to purchasers. The 
excuse of L'Enfant appears to have been that if acquainted with 
tho plan speculators would build up his finest avenues with 
unsuitable structures. Washington's letter displays both the 
ability and weakness of his architect and engineer : 

" It is much to be regretted," he says, " that men who pos- 
sess talents which fit them for peculiar purposes should almost 
invariably be under the influence of an untoward disposition * *. 
I have thought that for such employment that he is now engaged 
in for prosecuting public works and carrying them into effect. 
Major L'Enfant was better qualified than any one who had come 
within my knowledge in this country or indeed in any other 
I had no doubt at the same time, that this was the light in which 
he considered himself." 

This letter was written in the autumn of 1791, eight months 
after Jefferson instructed L'Enfant as follows : 

" You are directed to proceed to Georgetown where you will 
find 'Mr. Ellicott in making a survey and map of the Federal 
territory." Jefferson then distributed the responsibility by pre- 
scribing as L'Enfant' s duty " to draw the site of the Federal 
town and buildings." He was to begin at the Eastern branch 
and proceed upwards, and the word " Tyber " is used thus early 
in the history of the city as applying to the celebrated creek of 
that name, long afterwards the eye-sore of the city. 

As between t r ie immortal patron of the new city and the poor 
military artist posterity will expend no sympathies upon L'Enfant, 


but there was probably a provincial hardness amongst the" Com- 
missioners and a want of consideration for the engineers, for 
even,.-" Ellicott," also a man of uncommon talents in his way 
and of a more placid temper, was incensed at the slights put 
upon him. 

Jefferson wrote to L'Enfant Nov. 21, 1791, that he must not 
delay the engraving of his map by over nicety and thus spoil 
the sale of town lots, which it appears brought as good prices 
without the map as with it ; for he had written in October that 
" the sales at Georgetown were few but good." They averaged 
two thousand four hundred the acre. 

The Map was not produced, however, and his appeals over the 
heads of the Commissioners on points of difference were decided 
against the artist. His task lasted but one year and was 
abruptly terminated March 6th, 1792, as the following letter of 
Jefferson to the Commissioners shows : 

" It having been found impracticable to employ Major L'Enfant 
about the Federal city in that degree of subordination which 
was lawful and* proper, he has been notified that his services 
are at an end. It is now proper that he should receive the 
reward of his past services and the wish that he should have 
no just cause of discontent suggests that it should be liberal. 
The President thinks of two thousand five hundred dollars or three 
thousand dollars, but leaves the determination to you. Ellicott 
is to go on and finish laying off the plan on the ground and sur- 
veying and plotting the district." 

L' Enfant' s reputation and acquaintance were such that he 
might have done the new city great injury by taking a position 
to its detriment, and Washington wrote that "the enemies of 
the enterprise will take the advantage of the retirement of 
L'Enfant to trumpet the whole as an abortion." It appears, 
however, that L'Enfant was loyal to the government and the 
city, for he lived on the site and in the neighborhood all his days, 
and several times afterwards came under the notice of the exec- 
utive and was a baffled petitioner before Congress. 

We hear of him in 1794 in the public employment as Engi- 


l'enfant's biography. 51 

neer at Fort Mifflin below Philadelphia and after a long lapse 
as declining the Professorship of Engineers at West Point, July, 

Christian Hines, referred to elsewhere, told me that he had 
seen Major L'Enfant many a time wearing a green surtout and 
never appearing in a change of clothes, walking across the com- 
mons and fields followed by half a dozen hunting dogs. Mr. 
Hines reported with some of his company to L'Enfant at Fort 
Washington in 1814 to do duty, and that officer, who was In 
temporary command, filled him a glass of wine in his old broadly 
hospitable way and told him what to do. 

The author of the plan of the city led a long and melancholy 
career about Washington and died on the farm of Mr. Digges in 
Prince George's County, about eight miles from the Capital he 
planned. The Digges family were allied to the Carrolls of Dud- 
dington, and had pity upon the military gentleman who had been 

- - 

, . - 

' ..' " ■:■■ 

.. ■ .r; .;-.- - -; - ; \ - ■-'■. ■'■■■■ 

■■■■ - - '.■-■■ 

~~~ ^"^ »BSllIfH|j I BB1I 


at once so capable, so willful, and so unfortunate. The banker 
Corcoran has a distinct remembrance of L'Enfant as he lived, a 
rather seedy, stylish old man with a long blue coat buttoned 
up on his breast and a bell-crowned hat, a little moody and 
lonely like one wronged. He wrote much and left many papers 
which Mr. Wyeth of Washington told me he had inspected. 
He would not abate a particle iof his claim against the Govern- 
ment, being to the last as tenacious of the point of pride as when 
he refused his maps to the Commissioners to be the accessory 
of the auctioneer and the lot speculator. The Digges farm was 


purchased by the banker, George Riggs, Esq., many years after 
L'Enfant's death, and a superb stone mansion and a chapel for 
worship were erected upon the pleasant hill where the architect 
of the ruling city sleeps. In the garden planted by the Digges 
family there had been one of those private burial grounds not 
uncommon in Maryland and quite common to Catholic families. 
Amongst the people who closed his eyes he was laid to rest in 
June, 1825, at the age of seventy. Mr. Riggs says that subse- 
quently a member of the Digges family committed suicide and the 
negroes buried this person cursuise to L'Enfant's body. The 
leading members of the family were disinterred afterward and 
the old soldier left there nearly alone. Some measures were 
suggested for giving him a monument at the time I made these 

L'Enfant's judgment was not equal to his imagination, but 
he had taste, knowledge, and amplitude, and with a richer 
patron than the American Nation might have made a more 
sounding fame. His plan of the capital city is gradually vin- 
dicating itself as the magnificent distances fill up with buildings, 
and the recent happy expedient of parking the streets has made it 
possible to pave them all without extraordinary expense. Such 
as "it is, the city is irrevocably a part of his fame. One cannot 
fail to see that he drew it from the study of LeNotre's work in* 
the city of Versailles and in the forests contiguous to Paris, 
where aisles, routes, etc., meet at broad open carrefours and a 
prospect or bit of architecture closes each avenue. Washing- 
. ton city in its grand plan is French ; in its minor plan Quaker. 
It is the city of Philadelphia griddled across the city of Ver- 
sailles. Anybody who will look at the design of the house 
which L'Enfant built for Robert Morris at Philadelphia after ho 
was discharged from the public service, — that house which so 
far exceeded the estimates, that it was pulled down after the 
ruin of Morris and the materials made a quarry of — will 
observe that it is very much in the style of Mansard and the 
French architects of the seventeenth contury. Thus the French 
alliance with America brought to our shores the draughtsman 

l'enfant's quarrels with the commissioners. 53 

of the government city, and few men have had it in their power 
to define so absolutely a stage for historical and biographical 
movement. As L'Enfant made the city it remains, with little 
or no alteration. And his misfortunes and poverty contrasted 
with his noble opportunity will always classify him Avith the 
brotherhood of art and genius, and make him remembered as 
long as the city shall exist. 

The first quarrel which L'Enfant had with the commission- 
ers related to the destruction of a mansion belonging to one of 
the proprietors of the ground, the aged Daniel Carroll, who had 
begun to build a great brick house which he called " Dudding- 
ton," in the middle of New Jersey Avenue right under the 
Capitol. As this house embarrassed the engineer's much 
beloved plan and assumed for itself the importance of a public 
edifice, L'Enfant issued an order for its demolition. "The com- , 
missioners protested but the artist gave orders to his Lieuten- 
ant, Isaac Roberdeau, to pull down the structure in his absence 
while he meantime should be at Acquia Creek where he had 
leased the quarries of Brent and Gibson. Roberdeau was 
stopped by Carroll who sent a courier to Annapolis to get an 
injunction, but seeing the speed the Frenchman was making in 
the interval Carroll served a local magistrate's warrant upon 
him. When L'Enfant returned and found his orders unfulfilled 
he quietly organized a gang of laborers and in the evening these 
set to work and reduced the presumptuous edifice with a hearty 
diligence which led to a shower of complaints from both pro- 
prietors and commissioners. Carroll proposed to sue L'Enfant ; 
Roberdeau was discharged and the artist in chief kept his place 
only two months longer. The Administration directed Dud- 
dington House to be reconstructed as it was before but in 
another spot, and there it remains to-day, a grim old relic sur- 
rounded with a high brick wall and a park of forest trees. 

Andrew Ellicott, the consulting and practical engineer of the 
new city, was a native of Bucks county, Pennsylvania, where 
his English father emigrated in 1730. He and two brothers 
had moved from Pennsylvania in wagons in 1772 and started 


the town of Ellicott's Mills and were promoters of the fortunes 
of Baltimore and enterprising merchants, manufacturers, agri- 
culturists, and inventors. They were the fathers of good road 
building, of iron rolling and copper working in Maryland, and 
inventors of many useful things, such as the wagon-brake. 
Andrew Ellicott was in the prime of life, — thirty-seven years 
old, — when he rode out with Washington to inspect the embryo 
city. Of all the party he was the most intellectual unless we 
except L'Enfant ; for although a Quaker he had commanded a 
battalion of jnilitia in the revolution, and it gives us a wonder- 
ing insight into the resources of the American Colonial mind 
to find that this companion of Franklin, Rittenhouse, and 
Washington learned the elements of what he knew at the little 
Maryland milling place he established. 

EllicotHiad surveyed portions of the boundaries of New York, 
Pennsylvania, and Virginia, executed a topographical map of 
the country bordering on Lake Erie, and made the first accurate 
measurement of Niagara Falls. He had besides been a member 
• of the Maryland Legislature. His more tractable and accom- 
modating disposition secured him the honor of finishing the 
work of L'Enfant, and it appears that he was paid while on this 
service five dollars a day and his expenses. 

In 1792 he became Surveyor General of the United States, 
laid out the towns of Erie, Warren, and Franklin in Pennsyl- 
vania, and constructed Fort Erie. In .\96 he determined the 
boundary line separating the republic fronMie Spanish posses- 
sions, and for many years subsequently wa^ Secretary of the 
Pennsylvania state land office. His acquaintance and corre- 
spondence were with the most eminent people of his day in 
America and Europe, and in 1812 he was made Professor of 
Mathematics at West Point, where he died August 28, 1820, at 
the age of sixty-six. One of his family, Mr. Jos. C. G. Kennedy 
was Superintendent of the United States census in 1860, and 
is now a resident of Washington. Amongst the assistants to 
run the lines of the new city was one man entitled to the future 
consideration of all his race, Benjamin Banneker, a negro. 


He was at this time sixty years of age and a native of Ellicott's 
Mills and the protege" of the family of Andrew Ellicott. He is 
represented to have been a large man of noble appearance 
with venerable white hair, wearing a coat ot superfine drab 
broad cloth and a broad brimmed hat, and to have resembled 
Benjamin Franklin. He was honored by the commissioners 
with a request to sit at their table, but his unobtrusive nature 
made him prefer a separate table. He was not only consider- 
ately cared for by these gentlemen, but Mr. Jefferson with his 
broad encouragement for learning and ability had praised an 
almanac he constructed, and the black man's proficiency in the 
exact sciences had given him a general reputation. He was 
sometimes too fond of a glass, but made it a matter of pride 
that at Washington he had carefully avoided temptation. 
Banneker died in 1804, and his grave at Ellicott's Mills is with- 
out a mark. 

Thus much for the makers of the plan of the city. The trials 
and quarrels of the architects will be found even more romantic. 

With all his discouragements concerning it Washington kept 
up the gleam of belief in the fortunes of his namesake city and 
called attention to it in letters to the Earl of Buchan and his 
old neighbor Mrs. S. Fairfax. To the latter, who was in England, 
he wrote the year before his decease : 

" A century hence, if this country keeps united, it will pro- 
duce a city though not as large as London yet of a magnitude 
inferior to few others in Europe." 

Three quarters of that century have expired and Washington 
is a city of one hundred and fifty thousand people. By the year 
1900 this should increase to two hundred and fifty thousand. 
At the time Washington wrote, London had eight hundred 
thousand inhabitants. 



The first architect of the Capitol in the proper sense of a pro- 
fessional man was Stephen S. Hallet, whose name is also spelled 
Hallate. About this gentleman, whose career on the public 
buildings was very brief, no recollections and scarcely a tra- 
dition prevails. It has been generally said that he was an Eng- 
lishman and a pupil of the celebrated John Nash of London. 
It is apparent however, from the books of the Commissioners, 
that Hallet was a Frenchman. He is addressed by them as 
Monsieur Hallet and referred to by them as a French artist. 
They also apologize for writing him a letter by saying that the 
difficulty of making explanations between themselves and him 
verbally suggests the former manner of communication. Hal- 
let sent his plan to the Commissioners and they received it July 
17, 1792. They were struck with the evidences of his profes- 
sional capacity, and invited him to visit the spot as soon as he 
could. These were the old Commissioners, Johnson, Stewart, 
and Oarroll. It appears that Hallet's plans, which were several 
in number, had about commended him as the author of the 
building, and he was employed in that capacity when Dr. Thorn- 
ton, an Englishman, also presented a plan which the Commiss- 
ioners requested him to lodge with the Secretary of State at 
Philadelphia. This latter plan, although drawn by an amateur, 
affected both Jefferson and Washington to such a degree that a 
letter was at once despatched to the Commissioners requesting 
them to adopt it and to substitute it for Hallet's, but to do this 
with as much delicacy as possible and to retain Hallet in the 
public service. This peremptory order probably gave the Com- 



missioners much relief if we may believe the statement of George 
Hadfield, another architect who wrote twenty years later to the 
following effect : 

" A premium had been offered of five hundred dollars and a 
building lot for the best design for a capitol, at a time when 
scarcely a professional artist was to be found in any part of the 
United States ; which is plainly to be seen from the pile of 
trash presented as designs." 

It does not appear that Monsieur Hallet received in a cordial 
way this assurance that an English amateur had made a supe- 
rior elevation to his own, and he drew again and again designs 
while Thornton's were also amended after the foundations of 
the Capitol had been raised to the ground level. The situation 
was further embarrassed by Thornton's appointment as one of 
the Commissioners where he came into conflict with his prede- 
cessor in an administrative as well as a professional way. Mr. 
Hallet, in deference to Jefferson's suggestion, was employed at 
four hundred pounds per year, November 20, 1793. More than 
nine months previously, on April 5, 1793, the Commissioners 
wrote to Thornton : " The President has given his formal appro- 
bation of your plan." The changes in Thornton's design were, 
however, made so nearly like that of Hallet's, particularly as 
to the interior, that Monsieur demurred to the premium being 
accorded to Doctor Thornton. Quarrels ensued and Hallet 
withheld his drawings and wrote a letter to the Commissioners 
June 28, 1794, saying : " I claim the original invention of the 
plan now executing and beg leave to lay hereafter before you 
and the President the proofs of my right to it."' Thereupon 
the Commissioners demanded the plans and Monsieur Hallet 
refused to surrender them. He was then verbally acquainted 
with the order that their connection with him had ceased and 
he was no longer in the public service. From this time for- 
ward there is no notable mention in the Commissioner's books 
of this unfortunate architect, and I have not been able to find 
any traditions respecting him. His successor was George 
Hadfield, who continued on the work until May 10, 1798. Mr. 


Hallet's account, amounting to upwards .of one hundred and 
seventy-six pounds, was allowed by the Commissioners. 

His name, however, had been deposited in the corner-stone 
as one of the architects, and subsequent developments have in 
a great measure vindicated his claim as a principal suggestor 
of the building. About seventy years after his disappearance 
from the public view a son of B. H. Latrobe, the real builder 
of the wings, returned to Washington Hallet's drawings. Mr. 
Clark the architect passed them over to the Librarian of Con- 
gress in 1873. I was permitted to make sketch copies of Hal- 
let's plans, and Mr. Clark came into the library while I was 
drawing from these plans and expressed his opinion that Hallet 
was the real architect, that what he called his " fanciful plan " 
had been borrowed by Thornton and changed to such a degree 
that Hallet was overridden in the premises. He called my 
attention to this memorandum in Hallet's handwriting : 

" A grand plan accompanied this (elevation) which Dr. Thorn- 
ton sent for, together with my plan in pencil." 

On another drawing the following memorandum in Hallet's 
handwriting appeared : 

" Sketch of the groundwork : part of the foundations were 
laid by sometime in August, 1793, now useless on account of the 
alterations since introduced. . S. hallet." 

Other drawings by Mr. Hallet were endorsed as follows : 

"The ground floor of a plan of the Capitol, laid before the 
board in October, 1793." 

" Plan of the ground and principal floor sent from Philadel- 
phia to the board in July, 1793." 

Doctor William Thornton came to America, like Alexander 
Hamilton, from the West India Islands. Ho was a man of a 
good deal of amateur talent, and his introduction to Jefferson 
brought him to live on the Capitol site where he remained for 
.the remainder of his days. He would appear to have been of 
an officious, buoyant, persevering disposition, and after he was 
relieved as Commissioner he gathered together models and curi- 


osities in an abandoned hotel which stood on the site of the 
present general Post-office, and these curiosities were spared at 
his intercession from the British incendiary and became the 
nucleus of the present Patent Office collection, of which, while 
nominal clerk, Thornton was really the first Commissioner. 
He was also the founder of the first race track at Washington, 
and took delight in blooded horses, entering the lists with the 
great John Tayloe, the chief stock breeder and tbe richest citi- 
zen of the District. Dr. Thornton always insisted with vehe- 
mence that he was the original architect of the Capitol, and no 
doubt his picture of the elevations brought the administration 
to a conclusion. Jefferson says of it : " The grandeur, sim- 
plicity, and beauty of the exterior, the propriety with which the 
apartments are distributed and economy in the mass of the 
whole structure recommended this plan." The next day he 
says that Thornton's plan has captivated the eyes and judgment 
of all. " It is simple, noble, beautiful', excellently distributed, 
and moderate in size. * * Among its admirers no one is more 
decided than he whose decision is most important," meaning 

Mr. Jefferson, at the time above referred to, was held in great 
consideration by Washington. He had been stationed at the 
Court of France and was known to have a fine fancy for the 
arts and to take a patron's delight in the legislative edifices of 
his country. We can get an idea of his sentiments on art from 
a letter which he wrote April 10, 1791. He says: 

" For the capitol 1 should prefer the adoption of some of the 
models of antiquity, which have had the approbation of thou- 
sands of years — and for the President's House I should prefer 
the celebrated fonts of modern buildings." 

A controversy sprang up amongst the architects, which out- 
lived the life of Washington, and Thornton was put upon the 
defensive. In 1804, Mr. Latrobe addressed a report to Con- 
gress in which he denounced Thornton's plan and animadverted 
with some severity upon the principle of competition for designs 
of great public buildings, saying that " A picture " was not a 


plan, and intimating that Thornton's work in the premises was 
merely pictorial. To this Thornton rejoined in a pamphlet, of 
which a copy exists in the Congressional Library, — a purchase 
with Mr. Jefferson's collection. Thornton says : 

" Mr. Hallet was not in the public service when or since I 
was appointed commissioner, which was on the twelfth day of 
September, 1794. Mr. Hadfield was appointed to superintend 
the work at the Capitol, October 15, 1795." .Thornton says 
further : 

" Mr. Hallet changed and diminished the senate room, which 
is now too small.' He laid square the foundation at the centre 
building, excluding the dome ; and when General Washington 
saw the extent of the alterations proposed he expressed his 
disapprobation in a style of such warmth as his dignity and 
self-command seldom permitted. * * * Mr. Hallet was desirous 
not merely of altering what might be improved, but even what 
was most approved. He made some judicious alterations, but 
in other instances he did injury * * *. When General Wash- 
ington honored me with the appointment of commissioner he 
requested that I should restore the building to a correspondence 
with the original plan." 

It further seems that Washington addressed the commission- 
ers, Gustavus Scott, William Thornton, and Alexander White, 
February 27, 1797, expressing his " Real satisfaction with their 
conduct," which involved an endorsement of Thornton's ideas. 

Mr. Hallet's first design for the capitol, as well as the mod- 
ifications and amendments of the same, show that he was an 
architect of very perfect knowledge. Mr. Clark, as we have 
said, the architect in 1873, told me that he had heard that 
Hallet was a pupil of Nash, who was the leading English arch- 
itect of his period. Nash was born in London in 1752, and 
after undergoing a course of training in his profession and 
practising it for some time, withdrew under the delusion of 
speculation and lost considerable sums of money. When he 
returned to his profession he met with very great success and 
opened an office in London in 1792. He designed and con- 


structed numerous splendid mansion houses for the nobili 
and gentry in England and Ireland, and performed some of 
most celebrated street improvements in the British metr'v lS . 
He was an inventor as well, and in 1797 obtained a patent for 
improvement in the construction of arches and pier? ,."' bridges, 
which led him to assume the credit of ih-kod 1 • ' : the use of 
cast-iron girders. His work in London has been quite cele- 
brated, including the fashioning of Regent Street and its beau- 
tiful blocks, the Langh'am Place Church, the Haymarket 
Theater, the terraces in Regent's Park, and the pavilion at 
Brighton. England contains many superb interiors and impos- 
ing mansion-houses accredited to him, and he lived until 1835. 

It would be interesting only to architects to go at length 
into a discussion of the relative cleverness of Thornton's origi- 
nal plan, of Hallet's plans and of the amended Capitol as we 
see it to-day, the work of Latrobe and Bulfinch. The building 
has received the general approval of the public sentiment, and 
with the magnificent marble extensions of Mr. Walter, — which 
are a pattern with the old Capitol, — is one of the most imposing 
buildings in the world. Thornton's original design of- the 
Capitol had but one dome, a great eagle in the pediment, a statue 
with a club on the top of the pediment flanked by two 
female statues on the balustrade, and oak or laurel encom- 
passed the rounded top of the chief window in each wing. 

The original plan by Hallet placed the dome outside of the 
rectangle of the center and put the senate chamber in that 
rotunda. The center of the building was made a square open 
court with a covered walk around the sides and a carriage turn 
in the middle. The Supreme Court took the place of the 
subsequent senate chamber and the Vice-President's room was 
semi-circular and facing the long main corridor which traversed 
the edifice lengthwise. 

It would appear that Hallet was in Washington until Feb- 
ruary 22, 1795, for in the bunch of drawings recently consigned 
to the library and which were doubtless sent to the authorities 
by Hallet to prove his right to the premium — there is one 



" V A fanciful plan and elevation which the President having 
seen accidentally in September, 1793, agreed with the com- 
missioners to have the Capitol planned in imitation thereof." 


Hallet's " Fanciful plan " was surmounted by a dome with 
drum pillars and a light open cupola. Six Doric columns 
supported the center which upheld a curved pediment with a 
large eagle in the tympanum, and below were four standing 
colossal figures of war, peace, justice, and time. . Three col- 
umns flanked the portico, which had four doors of equal size 
and low flights of steps. Shallow curtains with one door and 
one window connected in the center with the wings, which 
consisted of a basement and one story. The basement was of 
stone rusticated, and the portico above had four Ionic columns 
flanked by windows flush with the portico. In the pediment 
of each of the wings was a group of statuary of half a dozen 
figures, representing war and peace. In the recess under the 
porticoes were three designs in relief over the three doors which 
opened upon the portico. Hallet's " Fanciful plan " was bor- 
rowed by Thornton. 

We may congratulate ourselves that the present state of the 
arts and the unity of official direction in this country prevent 
such scandals in public construction as attended the building of 
the old Capitol. It does not appear that any harmony prevailed, 
and dishonesty was often charged and sometimes proved. The 
early commissioners accused L'Enfant, Roberdeau, Baoroaf, 
and others of circulating on the spot infamous falsehoods to 




the prejudice of our character. Hadfield says that unfavor- 
able reports were taken to General Washington of Thornton's 
ground plan, and he was ignorantly advised to retain the eleva- 
tions and change the interior plans. The corner stone had 
no sooner been laid than " squabbles began ; differences, factions, 
and broils were the order of the day." The contractor for the 
foundation was displaced for another mason, " who used what 
is called the continental trowel, which was wheelbarrows filled 
promiscuously with stones and mortar and emptied on the 
walls. When the foundation was completed or nearly so, the 
whole was condemned and the second contractor or continental 
trowelist was dismissed." 

It is very certain that the foundations of the first Capitol 
were condemned and obliged to be rebuilt. After the first 
crop of commissioners had passed away it was found that at 
least two of their successors were short in their accounts or 
had kept no responsible accounts whatever. Mr. Hadfield, to 
whom we shall come directly, who resided in the city until his 
death and lived to see the reconstruction of the wings, published 
at the time a dignified criticism upon the edifice with these 
admissions : 

" The proper way to have built the Capitol was to have 
offered an adequate sum to the most eminent architect in any of 
the European cities, to furnish the design and working drawings, 
also a person of his own choice to superintend the work. In 
that case the Capitol would have been long ago completed and 
for half the sum that has been expended on the present wreck." 

The second architect in order is Mr. Hadfield, an Englishman 
who had been requested to come to this country and give some 
responsibility to the work on the public buildings. He received 
the endorsement of that undoubted genius, Latrobe, who 
employed him between 1803 and 1817 after the commissioners 
had cast him off, and he bore testimony that Hadfield had 
" talent, taste, and knowledge of art." Mr. Hadfield left behind 
him abiding proofs to the same effect in the City Hall and in the 
two remaining department buildings which he constructed 



" Of brick in the Ionic order with freestone basements," two 
on each side of the President's house, namely, Treasury and 
State, War and Navy buildings. He could agree with the com- 
missioners but a short time, one of whom was Thornton afore- 
said, and instead of discharging Hadfield courteously it appears 
by their minutes that on May 10, 1798, they gave notice to a 
citizen, Mr. William Brent, to tell Hadfield that he was no 
longer in their employ. Hadfield died in Washington, Feb- 
ruary, 1826. His successor was James Hoban, who must have 
then lived elsewhere, probably in Maryland, where he had 
married, for he was ordered May 28, 1798, to superintend the 
building of the Capitol, to remove to the city, and to occupy 
Hadfield's house, or if he did not get it to charge his rent in 
some other dwelling to the government. 

At this time Hoban was architect of the President's house 
as well as of the Capitol, and he was allowed for the moment to 
draw his full salary on both buildings. He received a hundred 
guineas a year for his subsequent attention to the President's 
house. Hoban was a native of Kilkenny County, Ireland, and 
was educated and taught the profession of an architect at Dub- 
lin. His living grand-son, James Hoban, is possessed of a medal 
awarded to the architect by the Dublin Society, for the best style 
of ornamental brackets. In 1780, Hoban, still unmarried, sailed 
from Ireland to Charleston, S. C. where he settled and soon 
received employment on the public and private constructions of 
the place. South Carolina has had the honor of furnishing 
two architects and a sculptor to Washington, Hoban, Robert 
Mills and Clark Mills. 

At the conception of the Capital city, Mr. Laurens (Henry 
Laurens, long a State captive in the tower of London) gave 
Hoban a letter of recommendation to Washington. He speed- 
ily drew the prize for the President's palace and was employed 
to construct it, which he did with equal particularity, stability, 
and speed, so that it was habitable in 1799. It is traditional 
in the Hoban family that President Washington took exception 
to the style and proportions of the White House as inviting 


criticism from severe Republicans, but that he gave up the point 
to the architect. It was revived, however, by Jefferson, of 
whom Tom Moore, Hoban's poet countryman, wrote in 1803 : 
" The President's House, a very noble structure, is by no means 
suited to the philosophical humility of its present possessor, 
vho inhabits but a corner of the mansion himself and abandons 
the rest to a state of uncleanly desolation. This grand edifice 
is encircled by a very rude paling through which a common 
rustic biH introduces the visitors to the first man in America." 
As an instance of the boorish feeling prevailing between the 
Commissioners, citizens, and architects, we may mention that 
David Burns, who owned a large part of the ground taken up 
by the city, resisted the opening of a cartway over his land to 
haul stone from the landing to the White House, and also threat- 
ened to sue the Commissioners, and complained of Mr. Hoban 
for cutting his wood, saying : " Such persons are not responsible, 
because they have no property any body can lay hands on, but 
are miserable speculators and without thrift." Mr. Hoban 
built the first post-office at Washington and many other good 
buildings, but he also failed to please the civil authorities although 
he reconstructed the White House after 1814 and maintained 
his influence in the city to the end. Captain Hoban died in the 
year 1831, possessed of about sixty thousand dollars in property, 
and having lived a comfortable and active life. He was at 
first interred in the old graveyard of St. Patrick's Church, but 
the remains were removed at a later date to 1$'. Olivet ceme- 
tery on the Bladensburg turnpike, where they lie at present. 
He left an efficient posterity, two sons in the U. S. Navy, another 
a priest, and a fourth, James, who was a fine Speaker and was 
United States Attorney of the District in the administration of 
President Polk. Hoban's residence is still standing at this 
writing on F street in the rear of 15th, on the north side, a 
landmark in itself. Sharp-gabled and very decrepit, and point- 
ing toward the street. He married after he removed to Wash- 
ington, and his wife was Miss Seuell of Maryland. He was a 
devout Catholic, and those who most distinctly recall him at 


this day are clergymen like Fathers Lynch and McElroy. 
During the early building of the Capitol the clerk of the works, 
Lenth all, Blagden, the chief stone mason, and a citizen, Cocking, 
were killed upon it. The stone quarries used for the early 
public edifices were at Acquia creek and at Hamburg near the 
mouth of Rock Creek, the latter within the city limits ; these 
quarries for stone and slate were purchased outright and cost 
twenty-nine thousand five hundred and fifty-eight dollars. The 
since celebrated Seneca stone was also used at a very early 
period for flagging and steps ; the former cost about seven dol- 
lars a ton and the latter about fifteen dollars, delivered. 

The fourth professional Architect of the Capitol was .one of 
the remarkable men of the country. His constructions of both 
a public and private character are numerous at Washington 
and in other cities of the country. One of his sons, B. II. Latrobe, 
Jr., was afterwards made engineer of location and construction 
of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, July 1, 1886. He was 
the genius of that great mountain highway. He had been edu- 
cated by his father, the architect, for a lawyer, but took to engi- 
neering, while his brother John H. B. Latrobe, educated for an 
engineer, became a lawyer of Baltimore, equally celebrated. 
The elder, Benjamin H. Latrobe, was born in Yorkshire, Eng- 
land, May 1, 1767, and was the son of Rev. Henry Latrobe, a 
Moravian clergyman of Huguenot descent, who figured as Super- 
intendent of the Moravian establishments in England and as an 
author in the Church. The architect was educated at a village 
near Leeds, at the Moravian school of Weisky in Saxony and at 
the University of Leipsic. He was a cornet of Prussian Hus- 
sars, and made the tour of Europe, examining all the public 
buildings of note before he returned to England in 1732. He 
entered the office of Cockrell, an eminent English architect, 
and married the daughter of the rector of Clerkenwell par- 
ish. The death of his wife gave him such desire of change that 
in 1796 he resolved to come to America and visit an uncle, 
Colonel Antes. The ship brought him to Norfolk where by 
good luck he fell in with the officer of customs who introduced 



him to Judge Bushrod Washington, a nephew of President Wash- 
ington, which led to his visiting Mount Vernon and becoming 
one of the fast young friends of that father of the Capital. . 

Richmond, Virginia, was then rapidly growing, and Latrobe 
designed the penitentiary and several tine private mansions. 
In 1798 he was established in Philadelphia where he built the 
old water works on Penn square and the old Barfks of Penn- ■ 
sylvania and Philadelphia, and he ahso designed the Bank of 
the United States which was built by his pupil, Strickland. It 
is to be remarked that as Latrobe was the preceptor of Strick- 
land, Strickland was the preceptor of Walter and Walter of 
Clark. As Latrobe availed himself of the services of Hadfield 
there has been a close succession of minds of the same order 
and of mutual inspiration at work on the Capitol for eighty 
years. Few buildings in the world have commanded the ser- 
vices for so long a time of men who knew each other. 

At Philadelphia Latrobe married his second wife, the daughter 
of Robert Hazelhurst, who had been a partner of Robert Norris, 
the early speculator in Washington lots and buildings. From 
this second marriage arose the two eminent sons above referred 
to. Mr. Latrobe was summoned from Philadelphia to be sur- 
veyor of the Public buildings at Washington in 1803. , He made 
a report at the beginning of the following year to this effect : 
" The hall in which the house of Representatives are now assem- 
bled was erected in part of the permanent building. I am, how- 
ever, under the necessity of representing to you that the whole 
of the masonry from the very foundation is of such bad work- 
manship and materials that it would have been dangerous to 
have assembled within the building had not the walls been 
strongly supported by shores from without." - 

After due inspection Mr. Latrobe reported that the south 
wing of the Capitol required rebuilding from the very founda- 
tion. He also resolved upon a reformation of the outer plan 
and a very thorough change of the inner. This led to the 
criticism from his associate Hadfield, " That there is no con- 
formity between the outer parts and the interior of the Capitol, 


the original designs having been totally disregarded." Partic- 
ularly does Hadfield denounce the raising of the entire floor 
throughout the building from the ground story to the principal 
order over the casement, excluding the light, making catacombs 
of the basement and turning an inferior part of the edifice into 
the superior uses." We may regard the east front and wings 
of the old freestone Capitol in mass as we see it as the design 
of Mr. Latrobe, who had sufficient influence with Mr. Jefferson 
to make him modify his extravagant praise of Thornton's 
Resign. The embargo and non-intercourse acts of that admin- 
istration made money so scarce that very little was accom- 
plished beyond finishing the interior of the wings,, and when 
the Capitol was burnt in 1814, Latrobe, who was then absent at 
Pittsburg building the first steamboat to descend the western 
waters (jointly with Fulton, Livingstone, and Nicholas I. Roose- 
velt, his son-in-law by his first marriage) hastened back to the 
Capitol and took charge of its reconstruction in a more method- 
ical and comprehensive way than any of his predecessors. He 
first made an inspection of the mined building and reported 
part of the walls and all the foundations sound and the more 
delicate work of the interior little injured although the incen- 
diaries had labored all night to make the devastation complete, 
using powder, etc., of their rockets for that purpose. It was 
Latrobe who designed what Madison called the American order of 
architecture, using the cotton blossom, the tobacco leaf, and 
the Indian corn, shaft and ear, in his columns and capitals. 
He made a personal visit to the Catoctin and London hills to i[ 
find quarries, and discovered the breccia or blue mottled mar- 
ble which is used in the old hall of Representatives and in the 
corridors. The hall of Representatives, the Senate Chamber, 
the old Supreme Court Room, and the old lobbies, as well as the 
ground plan of the two wings, were Latrobe's work. He also 
erected St. John's Church, the Van Ness and Brentwood man- 
sions, the arched gate of the Navy Yard, and was conferred 
with as to public buildings in many parts of the country. La- 
trobe had been on good terms with the commissioners fourteen 



years when President Monroe appointed a one-armed Virginia 
Colonel, Samuel S. Lane, with whom he soon came into collis- 
ion, and he resigned in 1817. Removing to Baltimore he built 
the noted Cathedral there and a part of the Commercial 
Exchange. His son, Henry S. Latrobe, had been sent to 
New Orleans to build the water works in 1811 and died there 
in 1817. Following him upon the same errand, the architect of 
the Capitol met with the same fate September 3, 1820. 

Mr. Latrobe has left behind him letters, compositions, con- 
structions, and a posterity which will give him a permanent 
fame in the Republic. He was well acquainted with the Latin, 
Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Ger- 
man languages. 

The fifth architect on the Capitol was Charles Bulfinch, the 
senior of Latrobe, who had been born in Boston, August 8, 1763, 
the son of a physician. He saw the battle of Bunker Hill 
from the housetops of the city, and graduated at Harvard in 
1781. Finding life in a country house distasteful he made the 
tour of Europe to further his desire to be an architect, and 
returning to Boston — he married his cousin, Hannah Apthorp, 
and became at the same time a constructor, merchant, and 
selectman. It was he who laid out the streets and filled up 
the marshes of Boston, built the Boston State House, and was 
one of the partners to dispatch the ships Columbia and Wash- 
ington to the Pacific Ocean whereby Captain Gray discovered 
the Columbia River. He twice failed in business, once by 
putting up Franklin Place, Boston, on too ambitious a scale, 
and again by the endeavor to fill up the Charles River marshes. 
His work is plentiful in Boston, as in the Court House and the 
North and South Churches. He also built the State House at 
Augusta, Me. 

Bulfinch made the acquaintance of President-elect Monroe 
in 1816. At this time he was a lame man, having crippled 
himself for life by slipping on the steps of Fanueil Hall, and he 
was visiting Washington and other cities to obtain suggestions 
for a hospital for Boston. President Monroe renewed the 


acquaintance while making a tour in the East subsequently, 
and was struck with the elegance of Bulfinch's buildings. The 
architect refused to take Latrobe's place until the latter had 
resigned absolutely, and then he proceeded to complete the wings 
on Latrobe's plan and to build the rotunda, old dome, and 
library, and to give area to the west front of the Capitol, which 
had been built too near the brow of the hill, by putting up the 
glacies and architectural terrace. In 1830 when the Capitol 
was virtually completed, Bulfinch resigned and returned to 
Boston, where he died April 15, 1844, at the age of eighty-one. 
He built two other buildings at Washington, the church for 
the Unitarian Society of which he was a member, and the old 
penitentiary at Greenleaf s Point, where the conspirators were 
imprisoned, tried, and hanged in 1865. 

The criticism of Hadfield, already twice referred to, was writ- 
ten in 1819 in the period of Bulfinch. That artist throws some 
light upon the cost and style of the edifice. He begins by 
calling it " A very singular building," ascended by " uncouth 
stairs in the south wing." The plan of the Representatives 
Hall, he says, was taken from the remains of a theater near 
Athens as described by Stewart, an authority. It had gained 
" some advantage in appearance of form and costliness of 
materials" over the former hall, which was, however, more 
consistent, being all of native freestone. The capitals of the 
columns in this hall were executed in Italy" and are a 
copy from the capitals of the well-known remains of the lantern 
of Demosthenes at Athens. Had the entire columns been in 
Carrara marble they would have cost less money. Hadfield 
rebukes the coupling of the fotai center columns, the screen 
between the columns of the peristyle, the gallery door, and the 
principal entrance crowding each other, and the screen of 
columns on the south side of the hall, which " would be better 
among the ruins of Palmyra." 

Such criticisms as Hadfield's lose their effect upon the 
public mind by their minuteness. The building stood for a 
quarter of a century complete as Bulfinch left it, and meantime 


. _ - — 

■88H§ iMilliiBS 




persons of every quality from all parts of the world bestowed 
their encomiums upon it. For many years a contest raged 
about the difficulty of hearing in that ambitious domed, column- 
encircled Hall of Representatives, but no portion of the building 
is more admired to-day, and perhaps people of wisest censure 
prefer the involutions, quaint workmanship, economy of space, 
and classical simplicity of the old freestone building to the 
marble wings which are modeled upon the former plan. 

The old Capitol, including the worksof art which belonged 
there, cost about two million seven hundred thousand dollars. 
It covered considerably more than an acre and a half of ground. 
It was three hundred and fifty-two feet, four inches long, seventy 
feet high to the top of the balustrade, one hundred and forty- 
five feet high to the top of the old dome, and the wings were 
one hundred and twenty-one feet, six inches deep. These dimen- 
sions show a sufficient edifice for the period to have been truly 
a national Capitol. The part which the British burnt had cost 
about seven hundred and ninety thousand dollars ; to restore 
those parts cost about six hundred and ninety thousand dollars ; 
the freestone center cost about six hundred and ninety thousand 
dollars. The park enclosing this old Capitol contained about 
twenty-two and a half acres. 

Within that old building happened all the contests of the 
first social civilization of the Republic. Every room and lobby 
and recess of it is full of reminiscence. Attempts are now 
being made on the score of architectural harmony to demolish 
it and erect a new center in keeping with the wings. We may 
hope that this will not take place until reverence and innova- 
tion, the historical and the artistic spirit, have a full debate on 
the subject in which the country can take sides. 

The successor of Mr. Bulfinch was Robert Mills, who was 
appointed government architect- by Andrew Jackson in 1830. 
He was a man of mediocre talents, whose opportunities allowed 
him to impress himself favorably upon the country. He was 
born in Charleston, S. C, and placed under the tuition of 
James Hoban in 1800, with whom he remained two years. Mr. 


Jefferson introduced. him to Latrobe. He had very extensive 
employment in the country, and constructed churches, public 
buildings, and mansions from Pennsylvania to Georgia ; he built 
the second Treasury, of which the facade remains, and com- 
menced the Patent Office and the general Post-Office, all three 
of which retain the impression of his style. He designed the 
Washington Monument, made a design for the Bunker Hill 
Monument, built the Monument Church at Richmond, the State 
Capitol at Harrisburgh, the Philadelphia Mint, and was the 
engineer of South Carolina when the Charleston and Hamburg 
Railroad was constructed between 1830 and 1884. Mr. Mills 
completed Bulfinch's work on the Capitol but got into a wrangle 
about the Patent Office which led to his removal. He long 
inhabited a tall brick house on New Jersey Avenue, Capitol 
Hill, and died in Washington, March 3, 1855. Mr. Mills had 
very little connection with the Capitol building, and for twenty 
years after its completion there was nothing more of architect- 
ure except a wrangle about the acoustics of the Hall of Congress. 

New states were, however, admitted to the Union, and the 
increase of population in all the states multiplied Congressmen 
so that in 1850 it was determined to extend the old wings by 
greater wings named " extensions," to be constructed of more 
durable materials and upon the original plan. Proposals were 
invited and the fortunate -architect was Thomas W. Walter. 

He held and keeps the rank of , the foremost classical archi- 
tect in America. The corner-stone of the additions was laid 
by President Filmore, July 4, 1851, more than fifty-nine years 
after Washington laid the south-east corner stone of the old 
Capitol. Mr. Walter was born in Philadelphia, September 4, 
1804, and was the .son of a builder. In 1819 h& entered the 
office of Mr. Strickland and, working with the trowel, supported 
himself and became- a fair artist in colors. In 1830 he became 
an architect on his own account and the following year designed 
Moyamensing Prison. His plans for Girard College were 
accepted, and from 1833 to 1847 he superintended its construc- 
tion, visiting Europe in 1838 to make studies for that institution. 



In 1843 the Venezuelan Government employed him to con- 
struct a mole and port at LaGuayra, and from 1851 to 1865 
he was the architect of the Capitol and had an influence in the 
Treasury, Patent Office, and Post-Office extensions. Mr. Walter 
was accused of influencing contracts on the public works 
in Washington, and the disposition of funds on the Capitol build- 
ing was mainly committed to an able engineer officer, Mont- 
gomery C. Meigs. 

The first estimate for the Capitol extension was two million 
six hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars and five years time. 
In 1856 Captain Meigs called upon Jefferson Davis for two mil- 
lion eight hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars and said that 
the additional cost was on account of the low estimates of Mr. 
Walter and in the substitution of marble, iron, encaustic tiles, 
etc., for wood, plaster, and stone. And he added: "I have 
labored faithfully and diligently to construct this building in 
such a manner that it would last for ages as a creditable monu- 
ment of the state of the arts at this time in this country." 
At that time the expenditure was about ninety thousand 
dollars monthly. 

Captain M. C. Meigs reported in August, 1856, that above 
two million five hundred thousand dollars had been expended 
on the new wings up to that time, that the work had no debts, 
and that everything had been bought for cash. The Berkshire 
marble shafts, monolitho, cost one thousand four hundred dol- 
lars each, and the shafts for the corridors of the south basement 
two hundred dollars each. The following were the prices of 
marbles per cubic foot. Massachusetts, two dollars and fifty cents ; 
Tennesee, six dollars; Vermont Green, seven dollars ; Potomac 
Breccia, four dollars ; Levant from Barbary, five dollars ; Italian 
Statuary, seven dollars and ninety-five cents ; Common Italian, 
two dollars and seventy-five cents. Meigs changed Walters' 
design somewhat, putting in one hundred and ninety-two columns 
in all instead of two hundred and fifty-two. Bricks, from all 
cities, cost from five dollars and fifty cents to nine dollars and 


twelve cents per thousand. To lay the bricks cost five dollars 
and eight cents per thousand. 

The cost of the Capitol extension was about eight million dol- 
lars, of the new dome about one million two hundred and fifty 
thousand dollars, and of the new library enough additional to 
make the entire cost upwards of ten million dollars. Works 
of art and ornaments made three hundred and fifty thousand dol- 
lars more. The extensions are about one hundred and forty-three 
by two hundred and thirty-nine feet each exclusive of porticoes. 
The whole Capitol has therefore cost about thirteen million 

^!^fP 111 


■^■|H& V 




The word " Lobbyist," as any body might guess, is derived 
from the part of the Capitol where people go, who have objects 
to attain on the floors of Congress but not the right of access. 
In the Latin lobby signifies a covered portico-pit for walking, 
and in the Capitol at Washington the lobbies are long, lofty, 
and lighted corridors completely enclosing both halls of legis- 
lation. One of the four sides of this Lobby is guarded by door- 
keepers who can generally be seduced by good treatment or a 
douceur to admit people to its privacy, and in this darkened 
corridor the lobbyists call out their members and make their 

The lobby at Washington is referred to by the architect 
Latrobe as early as 1806. He explains that " The Lobby of the 
House is so separated from it that those who retire to it cannot 
see and probably will not distinctly hear what is going forward 
in it. This arrangement, he says, u t has been made with the 
approbation of the President of the United States and also 
under the advice of the speakers of the two houses at the time 
when the designs were made. It is novel, but it is supposed 
that the inconveniences to which the Lobby now subjects the 
House will be thereby avoided." 

This shows the high antiquity of the Washington Lobby. 

I have no doubt that many of my readers may be asking 
themselves, what kind of a fellow is a lobbyist to look at ? 

A lobbyist is an operator upon his acquaintance, his wits, 
and his audacity. Your lobbyist may be an old man, whose 
experience, a plomb, suavity or venerableness may recommend 



him. He may be a strong man in middle life, who commands 
what he is paid for doing by a knowledge of his own force and 
magnetism. He may be an adroit young man, full of hollow 
profession, who dexterously leads his victim along from ter- 
race to terrace of sentimentality, until that dell is reached 
where the two men become confederates, and may whisper the 
truth to each other. 

The average lobbyist must seem an agreeable man, whether 
he he so or no. He is seldom so foolish as to risk a quarrel 
for no end, and therefore a newspaper-writer can readily 
approach him and learn the news, — there being a tacit truce 
understood between them, by which the writer gets his news 
on the understanding that he will give trouble, in the way of 
revelations, to none less than the lobbyist's principals. The 
native lobbyist rather likes to read quick-witted accounts of 
such operations as he is about, and, if somebody in his own 
line other than himself, be described, enjoys the matter hugely. 

I recollect, on one occasion, having it suggested to me that 
a sketch on the game of poker as played at Washington might 
incidentally trench upon a character of lobby influence not gen- 
erally understood. The intimation that I received was, that 
certain prominent men in Congress and the government were 
very fond of the "Western game of draw-poker ; and that certain 
gentlemen in the Lobby, knowing this fact, humored the incli- 
nation, and played a losing game with the aforesaid dignita- 
ries, in order that the acquaintance might be closer, and the 
legislative business in hand easy to approach. It is well estab- 
lished that, if you can deceive a man into believing that he has 
plundered you at cards, he feels under a sort of chivalric obli- 
gation ; and hence a strong lobbyist will permit himself to lose 
heavily at the poker-table, under the assumption that the great 
Congressman who wins the stake will look leniently upon the 
little appropriation he means to ask for. As the appropriation 
is sure to be twenty-fold the loss at cards, it is plain that the 
loser really plays the best game at poker. 

On this occasion, I went directly to a couple of fellows whom 


I knew to be prime hands at the draw game, and stated to them 
that I could not play poker, and wanted to get an idea of it 
sans experience, and also some points with which to point my 
article. Both men entered into the spirit of the proposition, 
and while one sat down, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, 
and gave me som«e inside information, the other slipped off 
and bought a book called " The American Hoyle," which he 
sent to me under the frank of the very member of Congress 
who was to be the subject of the article. 

Amongst the lobbyists at Washington, is one very agreeable, 
well-behaved, and most learned man, who is on excellent terms 
with some of the most prominent of the judges, senators, etc., 
at the Capital. He formerly enjoyed the advantage of a part- 
nership-at4aw, and in a distant state was quite an influence in 
politics and at the bar. I believe that an unfortunate streak 
of luck came to him in the course of his practice, by which he 
was able, upon a speculation, involving some legislative proceed- 
ings, to make very much more money in a short space of time 
than he could do in a year or two by methodical practice. 
Whatever the cause, he slipped his moorings as a fair lawyer, 
and took to the legislature every winter, but never in support 
of any small matter. His propositions were all imperial, and 
to hear him talk you would think his ends were his country's, 
his God's, and truth's. He had a fine way of talking about 
" The_ equities," which he explained to be something superior 
in morals to mere points of law and evidence ; and, with his 
fine grave face, suave manner, and enormous determination, 
he. never failed to be respectable, and I always wondered how 
he ever could fail. Yet he always did fail, that is, he could 
inspire sufficient confidence in those who backed him with 
money to be kept at Washington from year to year at their 
expense, but his proposals were so preposterous mi the amount 
asked, that nobody dared to vote for them. 

On one occasion I was bound to New York, when this gentle- 
man was discovered to have the adjacent berth to mine, and to 
be my companion in those agreeable hours one spends sitting 


up until the berth shall be made, the lights put down, and the 
last passenger turned in. I was but imperfectly aware of his 
business at Washington, where he had always addressed me. 
respectfully, and with a lazy man's privilege, I turned to him 
more unguardedly than on previous occasions, and soon found 
myself under the glamour of a very remarkable mind. He had 
spent much of his life in a distant part of the country, among 
associations interesting in themselves, and the grade of his 
acquaintances was high, and often eminent. He was President- 
making on this particular evening, and called my attention to 
the force, record, and consistency of some gentlemen whom I 
had never thought of in association with the Chief Magistracy. 
As he proceeded in his talk, I felt a luminous mind near me as 
truly as if I had been sitting under some shining orb. His lit- 
erary tastes were just crude enough to be original and honest. 
His acquaintance with men was that of one who never took a 
suggestion but he gave one back like an equal. There was 
bearing in the man-also, and that feeling of warm interest in 
my youth which had the effect to make me feel that there was 
something to pity in my associate. Without any clear knowl- 
edge that he had ever been wronged, I got to feel that his desert 
had been unequal to his aspiration, and imperceptibly the 
impression -was made upon me that he had lost his grasp upon 
fortune by too much courage, rather than by the abandonment 
of his friends ; for, like every man in the Lobby, as I afterwards 
found out, he placed much stress upon personal fidelity. You 
never find a genuine lobbyist but he makes it a point of honor 
that friendship is the last manly element to be given up, and I 
suppose that this is an approximate notion to that older relation 
we express when we say that there is honor among thieves. 
At Washington one hears much more of loyalty to one's friends 
than of loyalty to one's country. In fact, one would soon become 
unpopular in that promiscuous society by affecting any undue 
or juvenile consideration for his country. They expect John 
A. Bingham, or Daniel Voorhees, or some of the professional 
orators, to attend to that kind of sentiment exclusively. 


Time ran on, and I discovered what my quondam companion 
of the sleeping-car was working his brain upon during the pend- 
ing session. He had a fine scheme, based upon the nicest prin- 
ciples of equity,. to take sixty million dollars out of the Treas- 
ury to refund the cotton tax. I have never been able to per- 
suade myself that he did not believe he was engaged in a highly 
meritorious duty in seeking to have that cotton-tax taken out 
of the Treasury and refunded, because, as he expressed it, the 
Supreme Court had been equally divided on the subject, and 
would certainly have made a decision as he argued it, except 
that two unjudicial Justices had been added to the Bench to 
anticipate certain railway decisions, and were not to be relied 
upon when a fine point of law and honor came up. The sixty 
million dollars were not to be grossly shoveled out of the Treas- 
ury, for my friend was no such gross disturber of the revenues 
and the tax-scale. Like every other lobbyist, he preferred the 
pleasant form of a bonded restitution. 

The Treasury was merely to listen to the courts, as the courts 
were merely 4o do justice to a war-ridden people. If the courts 
should be so lost to judicial integrity as to slip the matter over 
from term to term, he did not entertain the supposition that a 
Congress of his countrymen would be equally tardy in doing 
their duty. When this Congress had shown, in a chivalric way, 
its origin with the constituency, and its respect for law and 
" equity," by passing the little bill which he proposed, nothing 
else was necessary than for the Treasury to issue sixty million 
dollars of bonds, redeemable in forty years, with the proper 
coupons attached. Having your coupons attached, you, as a , 
friend of the outraged planter, were merely to collect the inter- 
est annually ; and here my friend was wont to stop and say, with 
a look which was as impressive as Chevalier Bayard's : " What 
is interest at seven per cent to a nation like ours, which owes so 
much to the cotton interest ?" 

You can see it all in a twinkling. The whole thing involved 
but four million or so per annum ; while, meantime, with his 
three cents per pound on cotton refunded to him, the planter 


would take new heart, believe again in the generosity of the 
country, put this annual amount into gins, seed, and labor, 
and push the country so far ahead that, when the bonds came 
due at the end of forty years, so far from anything being lost, 
there would only be a magnificent investment on all sides. It 
would bless him that gave and him that took. 

If there could be such a thing in our days as a simple-minded 
man in Congress, it might not be hard to suppose that a scheme 
like this might carry conviction to his mind. But my friend, 
probably, had a less sentimental backing than this to his prop- 
osition. All that portion of the press, all those Congressmen, 
all the commercial interests, in the cotton area, were, perhaps, 
already driven up and prepared to vote for this job as a sec- 
tional issue ; for he makes a great mistake who thinks we have 
got out of sectionalism by getting out of slavery. It was the 
cotton which made the sectionalism before fully as much as the 
slave ; because the slave might grow anywhere, but the cotton 
would not. In this scheme, however, there was still another 
powerful interest lying back in the rear, and that>was a com- 
bination of disinterested gentlemen who paid my friend's 
expenses in Washington, and had already secured nearly the 
whole sum to be restored from the Treasury, by obtaining the 
refusal of nearly all the said claims for the cotton which had 
been seized. 

Although sixty million dollars were to be represented by the 
bonds which the Treasury were to issue, it might take but a 
few thousand dollars to get control of the bonds in anticipation 
of their issue. These few thousand dollars would, perhaps, 
come from some plethoric banker who was to be promised the 
negotiation of the bonds when the Treasury should put them 
out. In order to make everything fair, perhaps a sjtock com- 
pany, with no capital to see, but plenty to talk about, had 
arranged to distribute stock in anticipation of the bonds, to 
redeem the stock with the bonds when they were at last printed, 
and perhaps the whole Confederacy was to be " taken in " some- 
where between the passage of the bill and the insurance of the 


Another of our sterling knights of the Lobby of Washington 
is the gentleman who is responsible for the great tunnel pro- 

This man is a Columbus, a Lesseps, and a De "Witt Clinton 
of his kind. He is, I believe, a native of Prussia, and a fine- 
looking man, with Oriental features, a dark eye, excellent address, 
in despite of his German accent, and he is both an author, a 
pleader, and a diplomatist. Some say he is no engineer ; but, ' 
if this be the case, he has performed an enormous amount of 
work as a mere assumer, which it would have been hard for a 
real professional mining engineer to do as well. 

I made this gentleman's acquaintance the first year I came 
to Washington, while visiting, as I was in the habit of doing, 
Mr, Riley, clerk of the Mining Committee. 

Mr. Riley had led a life of adventure ; had edited a newspaper 
in British Columbia, and subsequently made a journey to the 
diamond fields of South Africa, to write a book for a Hartford 
publishing house. He died of cancer in the face before his book 
was completed. 

One day while speaking to Mr. Riley, he called my attention 
to some large and beautiful albums filled with the richest pho- 
tographs of Kings and Queens, works of art, fine architectures, 
and people prominent in literature, opera, and adventure, which 
could be collected in Europe. I had never seen, even in Europe, 
such a perfect and exquisite library of photographs, and they 
have been uniformly the admiration of all who have seen them. 
They were the property of the tunnel-maker. Adjacent to these 
photographic books was a magnificent collection of gems, min- 
erals, etc., from the various mines of Europe. , I was told by 
Mr. Riley, as a mark of confidence, that he would see to it that 
I should become possessed of a copy of an extraordinary book 
on mining which his great friend and collector was at that time 

In due time this book came out, and it was, indeed, an expen- 
sive and entertaining work, and of a somewhat technical char- 



The title of this work was, " The Comstock Lode, and the 
Evils of the Present System of Mining." 

It began with a description of the Comstock Lode, — a mighty 
vein of gold and silver in the State of Nevada, which was dis- 
covered in the year 1869, and on which nearly forty companies 
owned claims. These companies had already produced the 
incredible sum of one hundred and thirty million dollars in bul- 
lion. The shafts into the lode had been sunk more than one 
thousand feet, so that, between the cost of labor, the interference 
of water, and the loss of power, the whole lode was in danger 
of abandonment. If abandoned, one hundred thousand people 
would be deprived of their occupation and means of subsistence ! 
Such a calamity Providence had done its part to avert by rais- 
ing the lode a thousand feet or more^ above the adjacent valley, 
which was thus manifestly designed to be used for the propul- 
sion of a tunnel beneath the lode, which would at once draw off 
the water and carry off the ore by an inclined plane, and per- 
mit economical and vastly ramified mining for a hundred years 
to come. This tunnel, which would be called after its proposer, 
would have a length of twenty-one thousand feet, with shafts 
making the amount total forty-three thousand. ■ The scheme 
had been already proposed to eminent " experts " in Europe, 
who forthwith came to the aid of the engineer with letters of 
indorsement, all duly printed in this beautiful volume. The 
mining companies' working far above the lode had agreed to 
pay two dollars a ton for the ore which the great tunnel should 
carry out for them. The Tunnel was to have two substantial 
railroad tracks. Such tunnels had been built in Germany and 
elsewhere, as in the Hartz Mountains; and the engineer staked 
his reputation, and gave the whole tunnel, liberally, as security, 
that, if Congress would issue bonds and come to the aid of the 
work to the extent of five million dollars, fifty million dollars 
per annum of precious metal could be brought out, science would 
be benefited, the mineral domain would be filled with immigra- 
tion, the burdens of the people in taxation would be reduced, 
and the national debt paid off! 


Some years have passed since this book was placed in my 
hands, and every year the indefatigable ngineer adds another 
tome, if possible more agreeable, more eloquent, and more con- 
vincing, in favor of the proposition. He has obtained some 
private credit, and has had sympathy among the miners, hun- 
dreds of whom have given parts of their work for nothing ; 
while, in Congress, men like William D. Kelley, Gen. Banks, • 
and Senator Nye, have made such speeches in his favor as Queen 
Isabel might have delivered before the King of Arragon in aid 
of Columbus. Every session of Congress finds the engineer in 
good apartments at Washington, patiently reasoning out the 
cause, showering his scorn upon those too blind to see and too 
selfish to help ; and, in the face of the opposition of the most 
powerful Capital on the Pacific Coast, he has succeeded in get- 
ting two or three reports from the Mining and other Commit- 
tees, indorsing his project. Horace Greeley committed the edi- 
torial columns of the New York Tribune to it. Ifmever achieved, 
it has become one of the notorieties of the period. 

There is a certain kind of nature in your fine old lobbyist, which 
grows tough and sturdy by opposition. In the amount of oppo- 
sition, it avows that it finds at least the bitter half of the appreci- 
ation which belongs to it. This tunnel, however, has not risen 
above the usual cares of such popular propositions, and the hand- 
some shares of stock of the Tunnel Company, which represent 
the golden meed of victory, if ever that time comes, are not 
uncommon on the streets of the Federal City. 

But, " Pshaw!" says your fine old lobbyist, "what is there 
wrong about our stock ? What is our property we have a right 
to divide, as we are a chartered institution under the laws." 

The great banking institution which is fighting the tunnel 
proposition has, however, its own suggestion for the develop- 
ment of the country and decrease of taxation on a scale scarcely 
less extraordinary, in the matter of irrigation. 

While our engineering friend wants to take all the water 
out of the Comstock lode, the quartz company and bank which 
oppOse him want to flood all the San Joaquin Valley with 


water, and redeem an empire from the drought. They have 
had engineers from India to demonstrate the entire feasibility 
of the project, and I believe that their bill passed Congress 
near the close of the session, sustained, as it was, by all the 
powerful influences which resist the scheme of the tunnel. 

What will become of us if the great tunnel and the great 
irrigating scheme combine and drench all the Pacific Coast 
with the water pumped out of the lode ? If both the schemes 
be successful, our heads will fly off; and, if both fail, where 
will be our pockets ? 

The next of our exalted lobbyists is the gentleman who 
watches the claims for French spoliation. He advertises with the 
regularity of the original Jacobs, whenever the prospect revives 
for paying these seventy-year-old losses. Does the Alabama 
Treaty arrange to pay losses inflicted by British slavery-corsairs ? 
So much more the reason for beginning in the right way with 
the wrongs of our grandfathers ! Is there a Venezuelean claim 
commission prepared ? Then why do we expect other govern- 
ments to deal restitution to us who began with swindling our 
countrymen during the French republican wars ? We think 
our gifted friend deceased sometimes ; like Mr. Hood's infant ; 

We thought him dying when he slept, 
And sleeping when he died ; 

for, after we have ceased to regret him, hard as his loss has 
been, up turns that familiar advertisement in the Washington, 
journals : 

" The French claims agency. In uninterrupted existence 
for forty-five years. Justice is to be done to us at last, friends ! 
I have never doubted the integrity of the United States Gov- 
ernment, if the matter were pressed steadily upon its attention. 
The prospects at the present time are light almost unto the 
perfect day. Send us the name of your grandfather's step- 
father. If the middle name is remembered, please put it in ; 
otherwise no matter, for we shall be sure to know all about it. 
We keep a list of ships, captains, breadth of beam and keel, 


and damages at compound interest. Broken hearts, assuage 
your tears ! All will be well by addressing Brobiggan, post- 
office box 41,144." 

What kind of looking man is this French claim agent ? I 
often wondered ! Is he the son or grandson of himself, having 
inherited the business in direct line, or is he like " Pecksniff, 
architect," possessed of the designs of Chuzzlewit, merely a 
clerk of the original Jacobs, who has wormed into the scheme 
or purchased it for the heirs ? If he be himself, the same in 
memory, faith, and perseverance, the same stalwart old-hunker 
of the Lobby whom Benton fought, and who stood with fortitude 
the thunder of Silas Wright, let him come forward and give 
us a specimen hair from his brave old wig. Let him organize 
the third house and make it regular ; for late Congresses have 
not even been dignified Lobbies. 

Do I see amongst these great knights of the Lobby my old 
friend who wishes a self-respecting government to behave itself 
at once, neglect the great considerations of empire no longer, 
and rebuild the levees of the mighty Mississippi ? I do! 
His honest face shines with its wonted fires. He is a little 
deaf on one side ; but it does not affect the sonorousness of his 
elocution, nor make him swerve one hair from his intent. He 
fought in the Confederate Army, but he laid down his arms 
like a man. He knew when he was whipped. From that day 
to this, he has accepted the arrangement of bunting as we ten- 
dered it to him upon the 'end of a pole. He kneels to the judg- 
ment of Heaven and the comities of time. Yes, he will take 
something, as in former days. 

We see him wipe his magnificent brow, and grow slightly 
more pronounced in the Southern foreshortenings and inflec- 
tions. We see his forefinger extended, and that oath which 
has done more service on great occasions than the involuntary 
prayer come forth with the rare intensity of a low whisper. 

When he sees the alluvial of his country running by the 
thousands of tons into the Gulf of Mexico, — the richest soil 
under the providence of Heaven, with capacity for several 


nations to the square acre, — to build up Cuba and that foreign 
archipelago which is merely the delta of the Mississippi. 

Stop ! says he, " are not the West Indies of volcanic forma- 
tion ? " 

Volcanic, of course ! That's where the wrong and devasta- 
tion lie. Left to their volcanic selves, they would be barren as 
the burning -marl ; but it is our alluvial which clothes them 
green and makes them teem with sugar, indigo, and tobacker. 
Yes, he will have some Havanny tobacker, though he despises 
the fatality which produces it. 

And my lobby friend, with unfailing resources, spirits, and 
individualism, unfolds' again his olden tale. A few thousand 
miles of embankment, at a few thousand dollars a mile, will 
narrow the Mississippi and each of its arteries, and correspond- 
ingly deepen them. Hence you save all that you spend for 
improving rivers ; you make every great river navigable the 
year round ; you can build railroads on your levees. And, 
instead of five million bales of cotton you make fifteen million. 
Mark this, and wonder at the blindness of human governments ! 
Do you spend the Treasury's money to accomplish such a 
result? Oh, no! You give merely that useless credit which 
blesses him that gives and him that takes ; you give merely 
the indorsement of the United States to the bonds of a Levee 
Company, which relieves the Federal government from the 
jealousy of the states in undertaking local work. The Levee 
Corporation accomplishes its object, collects taxes on all staples 
raised on the redeemed territory, meets the interest on the 
bonds, and pays the principal when they fall due in twenty 
years. Oh, Chiralrickards ! 

Do you still harp on your state rights, and prefer to be taxed 
by a construction company instead of by your government ? 
Show me that stock with which your pockets are filled ! 
Whose image and superscription is it ? If men would render 
frankly unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's how much 
less would they have to render unto God ! 



Lest we might be discouraged in our day by the presumption 
that we live in the only dishonest period of the Government, it 
will be a duty of solace rather than of scandal to show that a 
percentage of evil has always been present in the public coun- 
cils and that episodes of impurity and treachery in the adminis- 
tration have been sufficiently frequent to excite the gravest 
apprehensions and indignations of their day. 

In every case, however, the public sentiment in reserve has 
been strong enough to wash out the stain. Our first scandals 
referred to speculations in the public lands and the public funds. 

The State of Georgia was the first to inaugurate a land swin- 
dle in 1789. It sold out to these private companies pre-emption 
rights to tracts of land ; these companies were called the South 
Carolina Yazoo, the Virginia Yazoo, and the Tennessee Yazoo ; 
the whole amount of land disposed of was fifteen and a half 
millions acres, and the sum agreed to be paid was upwards of 
two hundred thousand dollars. Subsequently the same lands 
were sold to other companies because the first purchasers insisted 
upon making their payments in depreciated Georgia paper. 
Hence arose the controversy on the celebrated Yazoo claims, 

1798. This year is notable in the chronicles of Congress 
for the first scandalous breach of decorum that was ever wit- 
nessed in that body. It occurred in the lower House during 
the balloting for managers to conduct the impeachment of 
Blount, and the chief parties to it were Roger Griswold of Con- 
necticut and Mathew Lyon of Vermont. A number of the 



members had collected about the bar of the House, and among 
them was Lyon, who in loud tones indulged in abuse of the Con- 
necticut members for their course with reference to a measure 
that had just before been under discussion, declaring that he 
entertained a serious notion of moving into Connecticut for the 
purpose of fighting them on their own ground. Griswold 
retorted by saying "If you come, Mr. Lyon, I suppose you will 
wear your wooden sword !" in allusion to Lyon's having been 
cashiered and to a rumor that he had been drummed out of the 
army while compelled to wear a wooden sword. At this Lyon 
spat in his face, for which he was about to be subjected to bodily 
punishment by Griswold when friends interposed and prevented 
it. Immediately the Speaker, who had previously quitted the 
chair, resumed it and stated the facts to the House which 
resulted in a motion for Lyon's expulsion. This motion being 
referred to a committee of privileges, the latter quickly reported 
a resolution for expulsion accompanied by a full statement of 
the facts. But Lyon's Democratic friends obstinately opposing 
the resolution it was only by a majority of five votes that the 
House proceeded to consider the subject in Committee of the 
Whole ; and then, not content with the report already made, 
required that the witnesses should again testify. Lyon in a 
speech against the resolution jeopardized his defense by using 
a vulgar and indecent expression which became the basis of a 
fresh charge. One of the witnesses who had testified, to the 
fact that Lyon had been cashiered was Senator Chipman of his 
own State. Lyon stated in his speech, by way of rebuttal, that 
he had once chastised Chipman for an insult, which drew from 
the latter a full account of the affair, placing Lyon in an unenvi- 
able position. After one ineffectual effort on the part of the 
opposition/ who were unwilling to lose even one vote, to substi- 
tute a reprimand for expulsion, the resolution was lost. This 
unsatisfactory termination of the action of the House, intensify- 
ing instead of allaying the resentment of Griswold, he deter- 
mined himself to punish Lyon. Upon the occasion of his first 
appearance in the House after the decision Lyon was reading 


in his seat when Griswold approached and commenced beating 
•him on the head with a cane. Lyon arose in defense of him- 
self, and a struggle of some minutes duration ensued in which 
he rushed to .the fire-place and seized the tongs but was felled 
to the floor by Griswold who closed with and continued beating 
him until they were separated by the friends of the vanquished 
Democrat. The House being now called to order, there was a 
demand made for the expulsion of both Griswold and Lyon, 
but the resolution offered for that purpose was defeated. 

Lyon is further notorious as being the first to suffer penalty 
under the Sedition Law then recently passed. A principal 
charge against him was that he wrote a letter which was pul> 
lished in a Vermont paper, stating that with the President 
" every consideration of the public welfare was swallowed up in 
a continual grasp for power, an unbounded thirst for ridiculous 
pomp, foolish adulation, and selfish avarice," etc. He was con- 
victed' and sentenced to four months imprisonment and to pay 
a fine of one thousand 'dollars. During his. imprisonment he 
was re-elected to Congress, and, after serving out the term of 
his sentence he appeared in the House and took his seat, where- 
upon a resolution for his expulsion was offered, the causes alleged 
being " that he had been convicted of being a malicious and 
seditious person, of a depraved mind and wicked and diabolical 
disposition, guilty of publishing libels against the President, 
with design to bring the Government of 1 the United States into 
contempt." But this resolution also was defeated, although it 
received a bare majority vote, and Lyon kept his seat. 

The house, during the session of 1798, refused to pass a 
resolution previously adopted in the" senate to authorize Thomas 
Pinckney to receive certain presents which in accordance with 
custom had been tendered him by the courts of Madrid and 
London at the close of his missions thither, and which he had 
refused to accept because of the constitutional provision relat- 
ing to presents from foreign powers. The resolution was 
rejected on grounds of public policy as was afterwards declared 
by unanimous vote of the house. 


The seat of government was removed to Washington in 1800, 
but it had been established here only a short time when the 
building used as the War Office was burned and many valuable 
papers were destroyed. Within a few months after this occur- 
rence the Treasury building took fire, and although important 
documents were lost the damage was not so great as in the 
former case. The violence of party feeling which character- 
ized the times, imputed these occurrences to the design of 
public officers in seeking to destroy the evidence of their 

1804. The Federal Judge of the District Court of New 
Hampshire was this year tried on an impeachment during the 
previous Congress for willfully sacrificing the rights of the 
government in a case tried before him, and for drunkenness 
and profanity on the bench. He did not appear at the trial 
before the Senate, but a petition was received from his son 
representing that the Judge was insane and praying to be 
heard by counsel. Against some opposition the prayer was 
granted and testimony was offered tending to prove the fact 
of his insanity. To this it was answered that his insanity, if 
it existed, was the result of habitual drunkenness, and the 
impeachment was sustained. 

1804. The impeachment of Judge Chase of the Supreme 
Court followed closely upon the above and was the work of the 
Jeffersonians who were in a majority in the house. Chase was 
a Federalist and had made himself extremely obnoxious to his 
political opponents by including in his charges to the grand 
juries of his circuit political dissertations. In one of these he 
had condemned the action of Congress in repealing a late 
Judiciary Act, had depreciated the change in the constitution 
of Maryland dispensing with the property qualification of voters, 
and had dwelt with some emphasis upon certain proposed 
changes in state laws which he considered pernicious. His 
ability made him an object of fear to his opponents hardly less 
than his obnoxious doctrines subjected him to their hatred, and 
they determined to make this an instance of popular vengeance. 


On motion of John Randolph a committee of investigation was 
appointed for the purpose of inquiring into his official conduct, 
but they were compelled to turn back five years into his record 
before they could discover much against him which would oifer 
a semblance ol justification for his impeachment, and they finally 
concluded to present his action in the Callender and Fries cases 
as affording the least defensible points in his judicial adminis- 
tration. He was accordingly impeached and preparations were 
made to prosecute him at the next session. The articles of 
impeachment were eight in number. In addition to those 
founded on his conduct in the cases named, two articles were 
based on his charge to the grand jury referred to. A month 
was given to the Judge to prepare his defense.- It was a 
remarkable scene when the case came to trial. The Vice- 
President, Burr, was under indictment for murder and red with 
the blood of Hamilton, while the man impeached was a signer 
of the Declaration of Independence, sixteen years a judge, and 
pure and venerable. Luther Martin, a drunken genius and a 
Federalist, made a wonderful speech for Chase, and he was 
acquitted on a majority of the articles while in no case were 
two-thirds of the votes cast for his conviction. John Randolph 
played Ben. Butler in this trial and wanted judges made 
removable by joint resolution. He even opposed paying Chase's 
witnesses, an act so like Butler's at a later day as to arouse a 
smile in the reader. 

In 1805, Mr. Dallas, father of the subsequent Vice-President, 
was unofficially charged with having pocketed six thousand 
five hundred and ninety-eight dollars, for three months services 
as state paymaster during the whisky insurrection. 

In 1806, the Federalists charged Jefferson's administration 
with voting two million dollars in secret session to bribe France 
to compel Spain to come to some reasonable arrangement as to 
the boundaries of Louisiana. 

In the same year, 1806, a draft was found amongst the effects 
of a Kentucky merchant tending to show that Judge Sebastian 
had been a pensioner of Spain. The same was charged against 


General James Wilkinson, Commander-in-Chief of the Ameri- 
can Army. About this time Aaron Burr conceived his 
scheme of flllibustering in the Spanish Colonies, which has led 
to a very gaseous romance in our history. Burr's whole career 
shows that he was a sensationalist with little ballast of charac- 
ter or mind. Wilkinson was a military genius without sincerity, 
and he was court-martialed twice, and vindicated by his talents 
rather than by the facts. John Randolph was challenged by 
Wilkinson in 1808, and John Smith, a senator from Ohio, was 
set apart for expulsion by John Quincy Adams on the charge 
of complicity with Burr's treason, but a majority only voted to 
expel. „ , 

In 1809, an intricate and prolonged judicial and congressional 
process arose out of a claim by Edward Livingstone of Louisi- 
ana, — who had been a defaulter as Jefferson's District Attorney 
of New York, — for reclaimed lands known as the Batture in 
front of New Orleans. Livingstone bought the Batture, condi- 
tional upon his recovering it by suit from the city. The court 
of final resort decided that it was his and he paid ninety thou- 
sand dollars for it, but the citizens combined against him and 
dispossessed him. Jefferson believed that he was an unprinci- 
pled speculator, and the militia were paraded and the dikes on 
the property broken down. Livingstone sued the marshal 
who had dispossessed him and sued also Mr. Jefferson. The 
Supreme Court at Washington put Livingstone in possession 
and after indefatigable exertions he got the property only to 
find that his title was defective ; but he compromised with the 
other claimants so that the fourth which he obtained netted 
him a handsome fortune. 

We have omitted in this sketch any reference to Albert 
Gallatin and Mr. Breckenridge, both men of national reputation 
who were in much responsible for the whisky insurrection in 
western Pennsylvania. Gallatin was a Swiss who became a 
United States Senator, Secretary of the Treasury, and Minister 
to Russia, — one of the most remarkable men we have produced 


who lived to be more than four-score and had the greatness to 
decline offices greater than he had ever filled. 

In 1809, prolonged litigation and scandal arose over the 
case of the British Sloop " Active " which had been seized by 
her American crew and taken by 'a Pennsylvania State cruiser. 
Connecticut men seized her and Pennsylvanians recaptured 
her. A Pennsylvania Judge, despite an injunction from a 
Congressional Committee, ordered the prize to be sold. Congress 
reversed the decision of the State Court, but Bittenhouse, the 
Pennsylvania Treasurer, held as indemnity against his personal 
bond the certificates of federal debt in which the prize money 
had been invested. His estate was sued by a subsequent State 
Treasurer. This led to a conflict between militia acting for 
the general government and for the state. The government 
triumphed, and punished the resistants. 

It was in 1810 that Congress set apart one day in the week 
'for private bills. 

In 1811, the charter of the Bank of the United States expired, 
and the offer of a bonus of one million and a quarter failed to 
secure a renewal. 

In 1812, John Henry, an Irish adventurer, naturalized, 
brought on a great scandal by accepting a commission to detach 
the New England States from the Union, and then receiving 
fifty thousand dollars from President Madison. 

In 1813, Clay and Calhoun united in a successful effort to 
expel newspaper reporters from the floor, where they had long 
been sitting, to the gallery where they could hear nothing. 

In 1814 the Yazoo claims were settled by the issue of scrip 
to the amount of eight million dollars to the claimants, most 
of the money going to a set of sharks who had bought the 
claims for a trifle. 

In 1815, Dallas's scheme for a National Bank with thirty- 
five million dollars capital was adopted. Calhoun carried it 
through the house. The next year three hundred and fifty 
thousand dollars was voted to the Cumberland Road, the system 
of fortifications was provided for and the first public buildings 


outside of Washington were resolved upon. Congress also 
voted itself one thousand five hundred dollars a year per man 
in place of six dollars a day, and in the same session a pre- 
emption right for settlers on the public lands was adoptefl. 

When the books were opened for the Second United States 
Bank twenty-five million dollars was subscribed, and three 
million dollars more were taken by Stephen Girard who huck- 
stered it out to other bankers. Branches were established 
from the present bank in Philadelphia, at Boston, New York, 
Baltimore, Portsmouth, Providence, Middletown, Washington, 
Richmond, Charleston, Norfolk, Savannah, Lexington, New 
Orleans, Cincinnati, Louisville, Chillicothe, Pittsburg, Fayette- 
ville, and Augusta. At that time the public debt was one hun- 
dred and five million dollars and the revenue forty-seven mil- 
lion dollars. Jefferson vetoed the bill making the bank pay a 
bonus of one million five hundred thousand dollars, as well,as 
all dividends upon the public stock which it held for internal 
improvements. The bank grew corrupt almost immediately, 
and the State of Ohio refused to pay the tax upon its two 
branches. This Bank was a source of annoyance, scandal, and 
corruption until President Jackson finally closed it out. Amos 
Kendall's biographer summed up the subsequent history of that 
Bank in 1873 : 

" Despairing of a recharter from congress, the Bank pur- 
chased an act of incorporation from the Pennsylvania Legisla- 
ture, and still carried on its operations under the name of the 
Bank of the United States. In common with the other State. 
Banks it stopped payment in 1837, and never resumed. Though 
declaring its entire individual ability, it discouraged a general 
return to specie payments to the last, and when the other 
banks could no longer be restrained it threw off the mask and 
exposed its insolvency. Its entire capital of thirty-five millions 
of dollars was dissipated and lost. Such a record as its books 
exhibited of loans to insolvent political men, evidently without 
expectation of repayment, of debts due by that class of men 
charged to profit and loss, of loans to editors and reckless spec- 


ulators, and of expenditures for political electioneering and 
corrupt purposes, was never before exhibited in a Christian 
land. The ambitious author of all this ruin, who had aspired 
with the aid of his political allies to govern the government of 
the United States, and through his cotton speculations control 
the exchanges of the commercial world, and had been carried 
on men's shoulders as a sort of demi-god, had resigned the 
Presidency of the Bank and retired to a private life, where he 
died miserably with the disease which consumed Herod of old." 

Mr. Horace Clarke of New York, exposed in the winter of 
1872, a plot against him, the principal figure in which was a 
Committee Clerk named Cowlam. Mr. Negley, of Pittsburgh, 
introduced a resolution in the House, which had been preceded 
by alarming telegraphic despatches from Cowlam to Clarke, to 
this effect : " Honorable Clarke j I do not know you ! " Hence 
the startling information I give you is the warning counsel of 
an honorable friend and the secretary of Benjamin Butler. 
An attempt is to be made to pizen you. A dreadful conspiracy 
is planned. ' Thrice the brinded cat hath mewed.' Bewair !" 

To this, Clarke responded characteristically with an essay 
several reams long, breathing an essence of a gentleman, a 
statesman, sweet bread and peas. 

Another telegraph-despatch rejoined from Cowlam. The 
conspiracy was the most dreadful known since the days of Guy 
Fawkes, and headed by resolute and extraordinary men. One of 
these gigantic freebooters was to rise in Congress and point the 
way to the booty, and all the rest were to fill the breach. " Be 
warned," says Cowlam, " for my intentions never were sinister, 
since I am the secretary of Benjamin Butler." 

A lawyer was sent down by the Owl Line, and he called on 
Cowlam. For this disinterested savior of the Union Pacific 
Road, he saw a youth of a freckled physiognomy, with eyes 
which sparkled at the rattle of pennies, and whiskers blown 
out from his chops, as if at the vigor of his own windiness. 
This was the rescuer of the corporation ; and he pointed out, 
after much mystery, the dangerous authority who was to have 


mounted the barricades. It was Negley, calmly arranging Ms 
hair at a glass. 

The lawyer at once stuck Cowlam's correspondence in the 
hands of the immaculate Jim Brooks. When Negley mounted 
the breach, Jim Brooks appeard at the sally-port, and presented 
the veracious Cowlam correspondence. Negley fell into the 
moat, Cowlam disappeared by .volatile evaporation, and Jim 
Brooks slapped his hand over his pocket, and exclaimed: 

" The honor of congress has been maintained by me to the 
extent of deserving fifty more shares of Mobilier for my dear 
little son-in-law ! " 

An enormous amount of forgery, lobbying, bribery, and liti- 
gation has taken place over land claimed under Spanish, 
French, and Mexican titles. Each of these claims has been in 
the nature of a romance. The Bastrop claim was the pretext 
of Aaron Burr's descent of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. 
The Limantour claim, so called from a very noble appearing 
old French gentleman named Jose Yves Limantour who prose- 
cuted it, is described below. 

Real Estate valued in California which had continually 
increased since the acquisition of that State were among other 
causes depressed between 1854 and 1858 by the' uncertainty of 
land titles resulting from the numerous and fraudulent claims 
set up to property f,hat had been purchased in good faith and 
long held by its occupants. Of these claims the most distin- 
guished for audacity and extravagance were those of Jose" Yves 
Limantour, by birth a Frenchman. His claims included four 
square leagues of land on the San Francisco Peninsula, embrac- 
ing about half of the most valuable part of that city, Alcatraz 
and Yerba Buena Islands and the Farralores together with lands 
in other parts of the state — in all about a hundred square leagues, 
and he asserted his right to the same on the ground of a grant 
made to him by Governor Micheltorena in payment for mer- 
chandise and money advanced by him to the latter ten years 
before. The Board of Land Commissioners created by act of 
Congress in 1851 having confirmed his claims, an appeal was 


taken to the United States District Court, and the following 
quotation from the opinion of the Judge rendered in 1858 dis- 
closes the enormity of the fraud and the means resorted to for 
its accomplishment : 

" Whether we consider the enormous extent or the extraor- 
dinary character of the alleged concessions to Limantour, the 
official positions and the distinguished antecedents ol the prin- 
cipal witnesses who have testified in support of them, or the 
conclusive and unanswerable proofs by which their falsehood 
has been exposed — whether we consider the unscrupulous and 
pertinacious obstinacy with which the claims now before the 
court have been persisted in — although six others presented to 
the Board have long since been abandoned — or the large sums 
extorted from property-owners in this city as the price of the 
relinquishment of these fraudulent pretentions ; or, finally, the 
conclusive and irresistible proofs by which the perjuries by which 
they have been attempted to be maintained have been exposed, 
and their true character demonstrated, it may safely be affirmed 
that these cases are without a parallel in the judicial history 
of the country." 

Before its conquest by the United States a very considerable 
portion of the best agricultural lands in California had been 
granted to individuals by the Mexican Government, and the 
boundaries of these grants had been loosely described. By the 
treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo the United States agreed not to 
disturb the titles so vested, but the greatest difficulty has been 
encountered in ascertaining the extent and limitations of such 
grants. This in part explains the uncertainty of land titles 
which has occasioned so much confusion and annoyance and 
which has been the source of a large proportion of the fraud and 
litigation that has charactei ized the history of that state. No 
sooner had the motley crowd of adventurers" who had congrega- 
ted from all parts of the world upon the shores of California, 
discovered the nature and uncertainty of the title to the lands 
there than forthwith sprang up from among them a host of 
claimants and counter-claimants under alleged Spanish and 


Mexican grants, bearing aloft in their hands the forged docu- 
ments, covered by a superabundance of seals, to which they 
pointed as evidence of their rights. About eight hundred claims 
were presented to the Board of Commissioners provided for the 
emergency, half of which number they confirmed and the other 
half they rejected for manifest fraud and informality. Nine- 
teen thousand one hundred and forty-eight square miles, was 
the area of land covered by these claims. On appeal to the 
district courts many of those rejected by the Board were allowed 
and some that had received the sanction of the Board were dis- 
allowed. Even now on the docket of the Supreme Court of the 
United States this business is well represented, and so far from 
being settled it yet affords employment and lucrative pay to our 
army of attorneys and clerks. The General Law Office has done 
a goodly share of the labor involved, but it has marked against 
it this passage quoted from TuthilPs history of California : " It 
was a grievance loudly complained of, that an appeal from the 
survey made necessary a journey to Washington to watch pro- 
ceedings under a subordinate of the Land Office, and many a 
disappointed claimant has come home, alleging that the party 
which accommodated the clerk with the largest loan won the 

During Pierce's administration the Clerk of the Congres- 
sional Committee of claims, Abel R. Corbin, was detected and 
exposed in the act of black-mailing some merchants of Boston 
under -the pretense of saving them taxation. He was paid one 
thousand dollars but the disclosure lost him his clerkship. A 
special report of a blistering nature was made on the case by 
Hon. Benjamin P. Stanton. Corbin had been brought to Wash- 
ington by Senator Benton, whose organ he had edited at St. 
Louis. After his exposure he removed to New York ; with 
means obtained from his first wife, who was much his senior, he 
acquired a moderate fortune by speculation. Years after his 
humiliation at Washington he contrived to marry a maiden 
sister of President Grant, and it was he who devised the scheme 
of selling a house which he owned to the admirers of his brother- 


in-law. The house passed out of Corbin's hands into Grant's 
and was again sold to one Bowen who was induced to surrender 
it by the promise of controlling the local offices of the District 
of Columbia ; a new set of admirers again purchased the same 
dwelling for Gen! Sherman. Corbin went into a desperate 
speculation with Pisk, Gould, Smith, and other unscrupulous 
gamblers, on the memorable " black Friday " of 1869. Atten- 
tion was then called to his previous history and I recovered 
Stanton's report from the Document room and printed it sim- 
ultaneously in Chicago and New York. 



The Capitol of a great nation will inevitably draw to it per- 
sons of quaint idiosyncracies. Amongst the celebrated men 
and women who have flourished in the city, Lorenzo Dow and 
his wife Peggy may be mentioned. Dow died in Washington 
and was buried on Fourteenth Street in the northern part of 
the town. Ann Royall was another singular being who pub- 
lished abusive books and papers from her nest, on Capitol Hill. 
Many aged claimants and people with grievances have worried 
out their days around the Capitol. Inventors and people with 
ambitious schemes will continue as o in all ages to beseige their 
government at its place of residence, and some of these become 
chronic afflictions. 

Amongst the three Or four thousand Washington clerks 
recorded in the Blue Book of the United States is that of 
Charles L. Alexander, inscribed in the book of 1867 as a 
clerk in the sixth Auditor's office, but better known in the 
former Agricultural Bureau of the Interior Department. He 
has, or had, a brother also in the government service, and sev- 
eral years ago their father was favorably, yet painfully known, 
to many people in Washington, as passing by the title of " the 
Earl of Stirling and Hereditary Lieutenant of her Majesty in 
the Provinces of Nova Scotia, including New Brunswick and 
Upper and Lower Canada," and as having suffered and strug- 
gled much between the peerage and the gaol, between conscious 
right and imputed crime. The old man passed away in the 
sad satisfaction of having done and lost his best to establish 
the honor of his name and the estate of his children. These 
latter are still zealously at work, one in England and one here, 

lord Stirling's case. 101 

searching the libraries and the old book-stalls and explaining 
law and genealogy ; and the subject of our notice amongst us is 
now turning gray, as much with this inherited responsibility as 
with years. Dependent upon this government salary, he is 
still frequently seen at the library of Congress, prying into the 
" Force Collection " in the infinitesimal hope that there the lost 
link may have been hidden away. He says that his race have 
been treated badly ; that his father never had a charitable hear- 
ing ; and that while he is translating and compiling in growing 
age for the price of bread, his immense property is the spoil 
of squatters and irreconcilable relatives. This is no delusion of 
this man ; it is an inherited lawsuit, complete in every proof 
and paper, save only that a Scottish court, after one of the most 
remarkable trials in history, pronounced a part of the papers to 
be forged, while they exonerated his father. But had you or I 
succeeded to this monument of evidence j impregnated with our 
father's faith, we should have had thrice the presumption of its 
validity that we may have already by examining it. Of all the 
stories of lost heirs it is the most persuasive. 

To begin this case where it starts itself: 

In 1621 King James I. granted to one of his courtiers and 
Privy Councillors, Sir William Alexander, the territory of 
Nova Scotia, and in 1628 Charles I. added thereto the whole 
of Canada, soon after, also, raising him to the peerage by the 
title of " Viscount Canada and Earl of Stirling," and the same 
to descend to his heirs male. Five Earls of Stirling existed in 
all, and the fifth one, dying without issue, in 1739, left the 
title " dormant," until, in 1759, Mr. William Alexander, Sur- 
veyor General of the State of New Jersey, appeared, and peti- 
tioned the sovereign for the recognition of his honors. The 
same was disallowed by a committee of the House of Lords ; 
but many of the better English noblemen conceded it, and he 
always passed as the Earl of Stirling down to the day of his 
death, which occurred at Albany, in 1783. He was the cele- 
brated General Lord Stirling of our Revolutionary War, and 
ancestor, through a daughter of the Duer family, of New York. 


He commanded at one time or another, nearly every American 
brigade in the Revolution, carried a wardrobe of four hundred 
and twelve garments, among them fifteen night-caps, fifty-eight 
vests, and one hundred and nineteen pairs of hose, and once, 
when he shot a deserter, the latter, looking to Heaven, cried, 
" Oh ! Lord, have mercy on me ! " " No, you scoundrel ! " 
cried Stirling, " I won't have any mercy on you whatever ! " 
Stirling established iron works, achieved distinction, and died 
rich, and his descendants, satisfied with their republican 
inheritance, have never troubled themselves about the Scottish 
earldom and estate. After General Alexander was rebuffed 
by Parliament, in 1762, the title again lay dormant for fifty- 
three years, when in 1815, an entirely new claimant appeared, 
to the consternation of the Scottish Chiefs. 

This was Alexander Humphreys, the grandson of a Presby- 
terian minister at Dublin, Ireland, named John Alexander, 
and the son of a rich merchant of Birmingham, who had mar- 
ried the above clergyman's daughter. In one- of the brief 
periods of peace between England and Napoleon, this Alex- 
ander Humphreys visited France with his father, when, war 
suddenly recommencing, both were seized and detained twelve 
years. The father died in exile ; the mother in his absence ; 
the son reappeared in England in 1814, thirty years of age, 
with a foreign wife, the mother of these American clerks. He 
became a school teacher at Worcester, and afterward proprietor 
of the school, and was much of the time in straitened circum- 
stances. But while in exile a mysterious and supernatural 
communication had been made to him by a fortune-teller, one 
Mademoiselle Le Normand, the friend of his wife, — that he 
was the heir to great honors and vast estates, which he should 
secure after many toils and sufferings. 

The theory of his most charitable opponents was built upon 
the gigantic presumption that this woman, Le Normand, and 
others had prepared voluminous forgeries in the French, Latin, 
and early English manuscripts, with the intention of connect- 

lord Stirling's case. 103 

ing Humphreys with the dormant peerage of Stirling, and that 
he had been their dupe for twenty-seven years ! 

"Such conspirators would require the possession of immense 
and ubiquitous skill and intelligence ; a knowledge of the 
shifting histories of the Canadas and Nova Scotia, and of all 
their forms of law, of Scottish jurisprudence and genealogy, of 
various penmanships, seals, and heraldries, and the entire- 
science and symbolism of a peculiar province and its various 
eras. Yet it is undoubtedly true that this presumed Earl of 
Stirling received during a long period of years, by mysterious 
posts and expresses, by silent messengers, and by the agency 
of obscure peasants in Ireland and elsewhere, a new document 
in every emergency, now a map, and now a genealogical tree, 
and now a new writ or patent ; and these seem to have been 
rivalled by the number of real documents bearing in his favor, 
collected by his learned lawyers in Canada and America ; for 
among his suppositions was that when the American General 
Stirling presented his claims to "this peerage, parties in his 
interest stole and scattered the papers of the future (present) 
and legitimate claimant, and that many of them were conveyed 
to America. 

However this maybe, the new claimant enlisted in his favor, 
as attorney and agent, Mr. Thomas Christopher Banks, the 
author of a book upon dormant and extinct peerages (who died 
in 1859, at the age of ninety years), by whose suggestion he 
took his mother's name of Alexander, and in 1825 he appeared 
at an election of Scottish Representative Peers, and actually 
voted as the Earl of Stirling. The following year he instituted 
legal proceedings in Scotland to be declared heir to his mother, 
and entered papers, proving the existence of a charter of 
Novodamus. This charter was alleged to be a second charter 
issued to the original Earl of Stirling, admitting not only his 
male but his female heirs to inherit his title and estates, — 
for the present claimant, inheriting only from his mother, 
might have proved his descent, and still been no Earl of Stir- 
ling, had the males only inherited. To find this charter in the 


archives of Canada, Banks was despatched thither, and soon 
reported important discoveries. The claimant meantime retired 
to Worcester, engaged in correspondence with all parts of the 
world relative to his pretensions, and on the strength of his 
claim (one hundred million acres of land), received thirteen 
thousand pounds upon bonds granted by him for fifty thousand 

According to the Scottish law, a right of succession in 
pedigree can be obtained before a Sheriff's inquest, if there be 
no opponent claiming in precisely the same character ; and 
availing himself of this, Humphreys was declared in 1830 the 
great-great-great-grandson of William, first Earl of Stirling. 
Soon afterward he was declared heir to the great American pos- 
sessions of the same Earl, and he formally communicated the 
fact to the public .authorities of British America in terms 
almost befitting a sovereign newly restored to his dominions. 

This was the hey-day time of the new Earl, who seems 
throughout to have been a benignant, dignified, noble man, 
whether nobleman or not. He moved from Worcester, where 
he had been dunned by butchers and tradesmen, to fashionable 
quarters in London, and he opened an office under the eaves of 
the Parliament House, where he issued advertisements for the 
sale of territories in Canada and debentures on his American 
possessions. Eclat attended him and sympathy ; he preserved 
all the friendships of his youth, and the energy with which he 
pressed his rights in the peerage was demonstrated by his 
twice voting at Holy rood in elections, though under protest, by 
his creating Baronets of Nova Scotia, and by his petition, when 
Yictoria was crowned, to do homage as hereditary Lieutenant 
of Nova Scotia. He also forwarded, in 1888, a solemn protest 
to the English Prime Minister against appointing the Earl of 
Durham Governor-General of Canada. 

The novelty and daring of these measures aroused the jealousy 
of the Scottish Peers, and the Crown Lawyers of Scotland com- 
menced formidable proceedings to prove that Humphreys was 
not descended from the Earl of Stirling, and that he had no 


pretensions to its name, title, or rights. In the course of this 
long investigation the same mysterious agency which had whis- 
pered his destiny to him, followed him with new proofs when 
any proof had failed, with a new document when any document 
was confounded. By post and by miracle the wonderful mis- 
sives came, to the confusion of the claimant no less than his 
adversaries, and they surrounded him with a maze of far-reach- 
ing data and infinite links of evidence, till his friends saw, what 
he was blind to see, that either this was the hand of Providence, 
or of devils, — ox forgery ! 

The Crown Lawyers believed the last, and, on the 29th of 
April thirty years ago, " Alexander Humphreys, or Alexander, 
pretending to be the ' Earl of Stirling,' " was arraigned in the 
prisoner's dock, before the High Court of Justiciary, to answer 
for the highest degree of the highest crime, next to murder 

And here the strange spectacle was presented of a man past 
the prime of life, with a mountain of evidence ready to fall upon 
him, befriended, even in the prisoner's dock, by George 
Charles D' Aquilas, Deputy Adjutant-General of the forces in 
Ireland, his former schoolmate. 

"Nothing on earth," said this chivalrous soldier, " would 
induce me to stand where I do before this court if I did not 
believe Lord Stirling to be incapable of doing a dishonorable 

The latter waived his privileges as a Peer to be tried by a 
higher court and by a jury of landed men only. There were 
four Judges on the bench, three lawyers in the defence, and 
fifteen jurymen in the box — a majority ,to make a verdict. 
Members of Sir Robert Peel's family testified to Humphrey's 
high character, and then the seven days' trial began, to the 
intense interest and excitement of all Scotland and the aristo- 
cratic world of Englishmen. 

You have not the space, and the subject is not now entitled, 
in a chapter of this nature, to the consideration which would 
permit one to follow out the labyrinths of this evidence, wherein 


by experts, French and English, the signatures of priests like 
Fenelon and Kings like Charles I, the dates of extinct Colonial 
maps, the leaves of alleged old Bibles, inscriptions on alleged 
crumbled tombstones, letters half consumed by time, parchments 
strangely all destroyed by corrosion, save some excerpt, bearing 
solely upon the prisoner's right: — all these things you may find 
related, if you think this article of doubtful credit, in Townsend's 
Modern State Trials, in the second volume of Samuel Warren's 
Judicial Miscellanies, and in Archibald Swinton's report of this 
trial, issued at Edinburgh the year of its occurrence. The 
Earl of Stirling saw the fabric of his cause wormed through 
and- through by practical publicists and exceptional men of 
minute scholarship upon dates, doubts, and particles of circum- 
stances,, .till the whole edifice fell around him ; and yet, more 
wonderful still, while fraud upon fraud and forgery upon forgery 
lay revealed in the ruin, he himself stood alone and untouched, 
not a mite of evidence connecting him with any episode of the 
crime, however slight. The process was like that of picking, 
tint by tint and inch by inch, some perfect dream from the 
awakening slumberer, the delusion not all destroyed till the 
last gossamer veil is withdrawn ; and then in terrible shape the 
Earl of yesterday saw in himself the possible convict of to-mor- 

It was not so with the jury. They constructed the suppo- 
sition which I have already stated — that the Neapolitan wife 
of Alexander Humphrey's, in correspondence with Madame Le 
Normand — the D. D. Home, the Cagliostro, the wizard-demon 
of that period — had given the latter the family circumstances 
out of which Le Normand, by means of her large literary 
acquaintance and her talents, had put together the intricate 
block-work of this dangerous puzzle. 

The jury returned, after five hours' consideration, and unani- 
mously found that two sets of papers were forgeries ; that the 
two other sets of papers were not proven to be forgeries ; and 
that in neither case was the prisoner at the bar proven to have 
uttered any of them knowing it to be forged. 


The prisoner swooned, on hearing the verdict, and was car- 
ried out of the court insensible. 

This verdict must have settled the fate of Madame Le Nor- 
mand, if she had anything to do with the fortunes of this case — 
and the claimant swore to having borrowed four hundred thou- 
sand francs of her — for at the time of the trial she was aged 

. In 1842, Lord Ashburton came to America to conclude the 
treaty as to our Canadian boundaries, and then, for the first 
time, the people of Washington heard of the Earl of Stirling. 
He had come to say, firmly but courteously, to the American 
Government that they ought to buy his right in buying his land ; 
for the personal trial he had passed, established nothing against 
the legal validity of his title. He was still the hereditary 
Lieutenant of New Brunswick, Canada, and Nova-Scotia, and 
he demeaned himself as worthy of his rank. If he obtained no 
money here he obtained respect. His children passed into the 
civil service of the United States, and are well known as stern 
and implacable advocates of their cause. Here they have lived ; 
here is still their home, until Britain is kinder ; and no British 
sovereign holds more firmly to his shield with the motto " Dieu 
et mon Droit," than the children of Alexander, sixth Earl of 
Stirling, working in their government clerkships at two thou- 
sand a year. 

Seventy years of age is the learned dishing, the universal 
attorney for and against the government. His income is not 
less than forty thousand dollars a year, and his expenses are 
seventy-five cents a day, his clients paying for his stationery. 
He receives twenty-five thousand dollars per annum from the 
Mexican. Republic to defend it before the existing Commission, 
besides copious clerks' hire. There is a well accredited super- 
stition here that he makes his clerks work, and that lie sets 
them the example. Besides this fat thing, which gives him 
free office-rent, Gushing is literally the ultima ratio regum of 
the Federal Government. Mr. Akerman, coming from the 
wilds of the Ocmulgee, and knowing nothing of State Depart- 


ment cases, flies to Mr. Cushing and retains him in forty or 
more. Mr. Bristow, the new Solicitor General, sees no other 
alternative. The Democratic election frauds in New York 
demand somebody to represent the Administration, and the 
President of the Baltimore Democratic Convention is the man. 
Mr. Seward leaned upon the arm of the delightful Caleb, and 
the latter was vulgarly alleged here to " run " the State Depart- 
ment. He is still the benevolent legal encyclopaedia of this 
anti-judicial period, — a political time when "the party" propo- 
ses to annihilate the Supreme Court because it will not upset 
the President into the bears' den of Congress, — and there 
appears to be nobody in the country who is so close to the offi- 
cial elbow. I write all this without mischief. Cushing is the 
Administration's only trusted legal adviser. Politics has gained 
so much upon law in the last few years that General Grant has 
to reach into a past civilization and fetch out John Tyler's Com- 
missioner to China and Franklin Pierce's Attorney-General. 
Who can explain this necessity, except on the ground that 
Evarts, Curtis, Trumbull, Hoar, and other large national men, 
make the administration uneasy by their " muchness " of char- 
acter and judgment, and that a fine old hack lawyer is prefer- 
red, to whom all generations are the same, whose manner never 
varies, and who universally disbelieves in everybody ? 

Cushing's character is what might be expected from a man 
of New England birth and domestic education, who began life 
by a renunciation of every conventional patriotism, and resolved 
simply to be very learned. Without any principles except a 
few business rules ; his decalogue ten general antipathies, cov- 
ering everything human ; no ballast but industry, and over all 
the facile complexion of affability — he has descended to us 
through seventy active years, and for forty-five of them he has 
been in incidental public life. He has had for clients nine 
administrations. His .only delight is work. It is his repose, 
his worship, his substitute for faith. To see him rise at five 
o'clock, breakfast frugally, and then, with almost sensual avid- 
ity, repair to his labor, is to teach us the divine economy of 


for a soul with that unwearying scavenger, the fly. It gives 
almost a human interest to a Yankee clock, and it links Caleb 
Cushing to his species. His only enjoyment is to go fishing, 
all alone, about twice a year, and he fishes with the intensity 
of a full moon, drawing a high tide by his assiduity. At a 
State dinner he is a delightful guest, full of ; anecdote, reminis- 
cences and suavity, but few suspect that all this is sheer employ- 
ment with him. He writes for the great reviews, the North 
American, Forney's Chronicle, etc., with abundant learning, but 
only as an attorney, affirmed or concealed. He went to the 
Mexican war for employment, but he had no belief in it. Wily, 
sly, wise, whatever he may be, he has no definite notion of the 
result which he influences. He is simply an automaton library 
and gazetteer, worked by perpetual motion in the unknown 
interest of Caleb Cushing. 

As a pleader in court, Cushing is without brillancy. He 
will give an owl the blues to listen to him. His three elements 
of success are learning, the long renown of nearly half a 
century's prominence, and almost conscienceless tenacity to the 
cause of his client. He had been eight years in Congress in 1843. 
He has been a tutor in Cambridge, a Supreme Judge in Massa- 
chusetts, and time and again in the State Legislature since 
1833. Author, codifier, foreign traveler, Prince in high society, 
wire-puller in politics, the moderator in that pandemonium 
after the angel Michael had defeated the slave party, Cushing 
has descended to us a political atheist, and it is a general 
remark among the lawyers here that his judgment is not worth 
ah office boy's. 

This it is to enter public life without intentions or sympa- 
thies, those two grand virtues — the one in man, the other in 
woman — which make the political son of Hermes. 

Solomon tried it longer than Caleb Cushing, and wound up 
his career with the same words: " Vanity of vanities ;" saith 
the lawyer. There is no reward to mere industry, but industry. 
A clock exists no more where it ceases to run. Put it in the 
town steeple or on the family mantel, and to its application is 

110 Notable town characters in Washington. 

superadded a sentiment, a duty, a beneficence. But Caleb 
Gushing runs entirely to himself. He neither tells the time 
nor knows it. He chews law books for fuel, and runs. 

By some one of those unaccountable inundations which drive 
wharf rats ashore, and make poor houses yawn, Beau Hickman 
has been alive at "Washington for fifty years and may be seen 
daily in the capitol, fluctuating between Downing's Restaurant 
and the reception room of the Senate, a consumptive old bum- 
mer, with curled moustaches, very fierce, and a ragged old 
blanket thrown across his shoulders, a cane in his hands, bor- 
rowed boots, a spotted brown neck-tie, and a gorgeously-figured 
vest. His left hand is always twisting his moustache up into 
additional fierceness, while his right leans heavily upon his 
cane to save him from the twinges of rheumatism. His face 
is not without imposing characteristics, and the old vagrant 
has fought age step by step, clutching on life desperately. 
His career is a mild exponent of the force of an original predi- 
lection for living off men of the world and amongst them. He 
came to Washington in the hey-day of Southern domination, 
was a convenient time-server, an amusing bar-room acquaint- 
ance, and a man of tailorly appearance, dressed in the height 
of splendor. For some time he kept his head level ; next he 
descended to being a harmless curiosity whose company paid 
for his extortion ; then he became the protege of gamblers and 
worse. What terrible struggles with hunger he has had, what 
secret misgivings of suicide, what human yearnings for death, 
what aroused instants of sincere and tearful shame, we may 
never know. A Wandering Jew in the world of politics* a 
dauntless outcast, too timid for crime, he has illustrated here 
the extremest miseries of the man who deliberately evades the 
social contract and trusts to the idle charities of the profligate 
of his own sex. The brave old vagrant is near the end of his 
days. The feet of invisible ravens show round his eyes. His 
stare of precipitate and grateful recognition grows more piteous. 
What loneliness ! What resources ! God help us all in our 
fight for existence. 


He waiteth at the Senate door, 

And passing victims grips, 
His waxed moustache he stroketh o'er, 

His seedy beaver tips, 
« And he saith : " The good times come no more 

When Beau was full of chips." * 

He hobbles to the restaurant, 

And spendeth not a groat, « 

He wears a President's cast-off boots, 

And a gambler's overcoat ; 
And pines for a change in politics, 

By the Democratic vote. 

When two or three together be, 

He will unbidden come, 
And strike that goodly company, 

For currency and rum ; 
And they pay the impost hastily, 

Lest longer he might bum. 

Toiling, rejoicing, sorrowing, 

Onward through life he goes ; 
Each morning sees him out of food, 

Each evening out of clothes- 
Something encountered, something, struck, 

Has earned a night's repose. 

Thanks, thanks to thee, my deathless Beau 

For the lesson thou hast taught; 
Thus on the fly in politics, 

Our chances must be caught, 
Thus on the anvil of much cheek 

Is fortune beat or bought. 

Across a vacant lot from the capitol building, you see a mar- 
ble yard next to an isolated street corner. Around the corner 
one door is an alley gate, wide enough for a wagon. A wicket 
in this gate will admit you into a clean little back yard, closed 
up by a small, two storied brick carpenter shop. This is the 
Government Instrument-maker ; down stairs are the cabinet- 
makers, up stairs are the brass workers. It is snug, secluded 


and old-fashioned, a place you never suspect, going hastily by — 
without a signboard, with scarcely & sound to betray itself, a 
nook where one might wander by some accident and see quaint 
bits of individual character living there. Here the theodolites, 
field-glasses, and instruments of engineering upon far plains, 
mountains, and coasts, are so put together that they fit into 
bores small enough to be strapped upon a mule's back. For 
nearly twenty years these quiet instrument-makers have been 
working without a rival, just equal to the demands of the 
Government, building up its necessities. By a link their hum- 
drum lives are bound to the far adventurers, the Indian camp- 
ing grounds, the railways of the Rocky Mountains, galleries, 
the canons and sierras of the Pacific Slope. One might dwell 
in Washington for twenty years and never think to ask whence 
came the multitude of instruments which are lost, broken or 
captured upon the wilds of the far West. A little chance 
suggests the question and reveals the secret together. 

Not having been in the habit of holding any interviews, I 
resolved, one day, to call upon a celebrated corn doctor here, and 
while pretending to have him rid me of "bunion's" burdens, be 
really making some inquiries about the footprints of statesmen. 
This was a highly novel idea, because I have been two years 
studying heads here, with all the ardor of Gall and Spurzheim, 
and, as the subject is growing monotonous, I felt that the feet 
of great men would avail me as an extremity. So I rubbed 
up my memory with a stiff hair brush, and gave alertness to 
my faculty of hearing by means of a conch shell which*I keep 
as a gentle stimulant. After listening to this conch some time, 
speaking with such impressive emptiness, I can hear the foot- 
steps of the flies as they crawl up my sheet of foolscap. 

So, with all my antennas out, I dropped, in an indifferent 
way, into the sanctum of our greatest corn-surgeon, and asked 
him to cut four dollars' worth off, but not to hurry about it. 

The skillful chiropodist asked me to recline in a luxurious 
chair, and, while he prepared some occult salve to soften my 
pilgrim's pack, he gave me a large pile of corns to examine. 


He had about one thousand hard corns of all sizes strung upon 
wire, as a merchant keeps his bills or charges on file. Some 
were nearly an inch square and looked like a section cufrout 
of a horse's hoof; others were little delicate corns no larger 
than those raised upon the branching feet of a young robin ; 
others were clear as isinglass, and might have made the prev- 
ious crystal window in the heel of Achilles ; while some were 
dark and muddy, and the coagulated blood at their centre made 
them resemble ossified violets or heart's-ease. What a memo- 
randa of mankind and womankind it was ! The story of tor- 
ture for vanity's sake ; of high heels consented to in the sacri- 
fice of love ; of man's pursuit of wealth, all day upon his feet, 
.and these horny milestones, the silently accumulating measure 
of his journey ; of weary -postmen bearing our letters from door 
to door, while the long, poignant ache rested within the boot 
unnoticed, like the doleful heartaches in the envelopes which 
they distributed ; of soldiers marching into the jaws of death, 
but recking less of the enemy's Minie balls than of those mis- 
siles which crush the feet at every stride. Here it was, the 
intensest epitome of woe ever hung up as a business museum. 

$ What do you keep them for, Doctor ? " I asked. 
*' " Curiosity," he said, " and also as an evidence that I have 
not lived in vain. If the man who gives a cup of cold water 
to one of these little ones, expects to be remembered in Heaven, 
what will they say up there when I appear with my linear half- 
mile of such corns as this ? " 

He showed right here a corn which looked like three silver 
half dollars that had been run over by a locomotive : 

"Didn't that make him 'ouch'," he said, "and yet "that 
disagreeable and ungrateful fellow had no sooner shed that 
corn than he turned round, and says : ' If I knew you'd a 
charged two dollars I'd. walked with it half a century first.' 
That corn ought to have been biled, and he fed on it. as it 
would hev agreed with the old flint stone." 

" So you think there is a religious aspect to your business, 
Doctor ? " 


" Yes ; I like to think so. So does everybody like to think 
that he is necessary and comfortable to have round. Yester- 
day there was a young lady here, whose foot looked like a slim 
new moon made out of ivory, with a corn peeping out behind 
it like a star. I cut it off for her, and she said : ' Oh ! Doctor, 
I feel as if I could fly.' And the young man who came with 
her asked me to give him the corn to put in his watch seal. 
The^ young lady says, 'Oh! pshaw, what for, John?' and he 
replied that he was too jealous to let anybody else keep it. 
Said I : ' Well, my friend, if you look at it through this mag- 
nifying glass you'll .find that it isn't a very handsome jewel.' 
He took it up, and saw what you can see now, if you want to ; 
for he didn't take the corn." 

I looked at the little delicate filament through the glass, and 
it immediately resolved into a whole cow's-hoof, with terraces, 
spikes, splinters, and at the summit of the gristly pyramid 
there was a red spot like the crater of a volcano. 

" Why," said I, " it is truly piling Pelion on Ossa." 

The Doctor now took my foot very much as if he were pick- 
ing at the flint of an old-fashioned musket, and, having moist- 
ened the corn, proceeded with three sorts of knives alternately 
to quarry off the. capstone. Then he cut all my nails with a 
machine which seemed to be a sort of juvenile guillotine, and 
having set a plaster upon the spot showed me through the glass 
a corn like a limekiln. 

" Why," said I, " it is as big as Mount Caucasus, and the 
ache of it was like a vulture's bite. Perhaps Prometheus was 
only a man with a perpetual corn." 

" I don't read mythology no more," he said, " since old 
Senator McDougall died. After going on a spree he always 
sobered up, the first thing, by getting his corns cut. He'd 
come here whether he had any corns or not, for he knew he 
deserved them ; and he would talk Persian, Greek, and Iroquois 
mythology indifferently. Once poor old Mac told me that he 
had been on a great spree and fell into an open sewer. 

" * Who are you ?' said the policeman. 


" « Where did you find me V said Mac. 

"'Ina sewer.' • 

" i Then I must be Seward ! ' 

" When he told me that anecdote he laughed so that I nearly 
cut off the whole of his inferior phalanges." 

" But you didn't finish your scriptural account of corns. I 
don't remember that the Bible ever mentioned any other sort 
of sore but a boil, as in the case of Job." 

"No! but there are hundreds, of inferences which are a great 
comfort to me ; for I'm a Methodist. It's a comfort to me to 
believe that John Bunyan conceived the Pilgrim's footsore 
progress out of his own name. The whole Bible is full of the 
anointing of feet ; of the bearing up of feet by angels lest they 
be dashed against stones ; and on the human foot the nicest 
architecture of Providence was expended. The Roman arch 
was conceived out of the instep. Why, in this here foot of 
yours, there are twenty-six several bones. Look at irry little 
library, and see how many ingenious and noble men have writ- 
ten upon the foot. Here is Dr. Humphrey on ' the Human 
Foot and the Human Hand.' »Here is Craig's translation of 
the work by Meyer, of Zurich, called ' Why the Shoe Pinches.' 
Here is Professor Owens' essay to prove that the human foot is 
the last and farthest diverg'ence of man's anatomy from the 
nearest animals. Here is Meyer's model for a perfect and 
scientific shoe. Here is Craig's pamphlet against high-heels. 
We have plenty of literature on feet." 

"You might add the essays of the Anti-Corn Law League," 
I suggested, " and Ebenezer Elliott. But, Doctor do any of 
the great politicians come here ?"■ 

" Yes, all of them. There's a corn I cut off the little toe of 
Grant after Lee's surrender. It's the only wound he ever 
received in the war ; and I've been offered twenty-five dollars 
for it. There's one of George H. Thomas, a little fellow, and 
here are the principal scars of Sheridan, McClellan, Lincoln, 
the whole set. It's the only collection in the United States." 

I was now getting down to business, and I put out this ques- 
tion for a flyer : 


" Doctor, what sort of a foot has Grant ?" 

" A solid sort of a edifice," said the Doctor. " He's well sot 
on his astragali, but horseback has given him a pigeon-toed ten- 
dency. When he stands up and ain't thinking, the axes of his 
feet, if prolonged, pass through each other a rod ahead of him. 
He's a better officer than ossifier, and his shoemaker has taken 
a spite against me, so that he don't bear but one crop of corns 
a year. When old General Halleck was at the head of the army, 
he walked about so much, devising strategy, that he bore an 
entire new set every six weeks. He was fruitful as a tomato 
vine. Some men run as naturally to chalk as a schoolboy to a 
blackboard. Others are so stingy that a glove never pinches 
them. But, I hear steps, as of a man limping in the next room, 
and I presume it is one of the Pennsylvania delegation whose 
toes the tariff has abraded. Your corn has gone into the Ameri- 
can National Pedalion collection, and will be preserved fo*r the 
benefit of posterity. Good day, sir!" 



The custom of making New Year's calls in Washington is of 
comparatively recent origin. Mr. Madison, who had witnessed the 
interesting ceremony in the city of New York, in 1790 — then the 
seat of government — inaugurated the custom at the Executive 
Mansion, when President, Jan. 1st, 1810. Washington Irving 
was there in January, 1811, land in a letter to Henry Brevoort, 
describes Mrs. Madison as " a fine, portly, buxom dame, who has 
a smile and a pleasant word for everybody. Her sisters, Mrs. 
Cutts and Mrs. Washington, are like the two merry wives of 
Windsor ; but as to Jemmy Madison, ah ! poor Jemmy ! he is 
but a withered little apple-John." Francis Jeffrey of the Edin- 
burgh Review, who came out in 1812 to marry Miss Wilkes of 
New York, said' — ' i Mr. Madison looked like a schoolmaster dressed 
up for a funeral." When Mr. Madison asked Jeffrey on his pre- 
sentation—" what is thought of our war in England ?" — the latter 
replied, " it is not thought of at all." 

Mr. Madison was small in stature and dressed in the old style, 
in small clothes and knee-buckles, with powdered hair — was unos- 
tentatious in his manners and mode of life — but very hospitable 
and liberal in his entertainments ; with great powers of conver- 
sation, fall of anecdotes and not averse to a double entendre, 
though of the utmost purity of life. He was a thorough-bred 
Virginia gentleman, Jeffrey to the contrary notwithstanding. 





< In August, 1814, the White House was burned by the British., 
and Mr. Madison removed to the Octagon, the residence of Colonel 

John Tayloe on the 
corner of New York 
Avenue and Tenth 
street — now the Bu- 
reau of Hydrogra- 
phy. Here he held 
his New Year's le- 
vee, in 1815, and 
here he signed the 
Treaty of Ghent, in 
the month of Febru- 
ary of the same year, 
in the circular room 
over the entrance-hall. In 1816 and 1817, Mr. Madison occu- 
pied the house at the north-west corner of Pennsylvania ave- 
nue and Nineteenth street, and here received his guests on the 
first day of those years. 

Mr. Monroe's first New Year's reception was held at the White 
House in 1818. The first term of Mr. Monroe's administration, 
from 1817 to 1821, has been pronounced by competent author- 
ity, the period of the best society in Washington. Gentlemen 
of high character and high breeding abounded in both Houses 
of Congress, and many of the foreign ministers were distin- 
guished for talent, learning, and elegant manners. The Baron 
Hyde* de Neuville represented the French aristocracy of the old 
regime, as Mr. Stratford Canning, now Lord Stratford de Red- 
clyffe, did that of Great Britain. 

Mr. Monroe was plain and awkward and frequently at a loss 
for conversation. His manner was kind and unpretending. 
Mrs. Monroe, a Kortwright of New York, was handsome and 
graceful, but so dignified as to be thought haughty. While in 
the White House Mrs. Monroe was out of health. Her daughter, 
Mrs. George Hay of Virginia, attended Madame Campan's 
famous boarding-school in Paris, and was there the intimai 


friend of Hortense Beauharnais, the mother of Louis Napoleon. 
Mrs. Hay was witty and accomplished and a great favorite in 

In 1822, the Marine Band* performed at the White House on 
New Year's day, as the custom has been ever since. In 1824, 
the doors of the White House were thrown open for the first 
time* on the 1st of January to the public. The Intelligencer - 
of the next day congratulates its leaders on the decorous 
deportment of the people on that occasion. 

The winter of 1825 was one of the most brilliant ever known 
in Washington. It was the period of the exciting election in 
the House of Representatives, when Mr. Adams, Mr. Clay, and 
General Jackson were candidates for the Presidency. The 
Marquis de la Fayette was here as the guest of Congress, and 
occupied apartments at Brown's Hotel. In the last week of 
December, 1824, Congress had voted him the munificent sum 
of 8200,000 for his Revolutionary services. On the 1st of Jan- 
uary, the reception at the President's was unusually brilliant— 
for among the guests were the Marquis de la Fayette,, and his 
son, George Washington Lafayette, Harrison Gray Otis of Bos- 
ton, the northern Chesterfield, Governor Gore of Massachu- 
setts, Stephen Van Rensselaer the Patroon, Rufus King, Mr. 
Lowell and Mr. Graham of Boston, Mr. Edward Lungston of 
Louisiana, Mr. Clay, Mr. Webster, Mr. Calhoun, Mr. Crawford, 
Mr. Everett, Mr. Wilde of Georgia, Mr. Hayne of South Caro- 
lina, General Jackson, and many other distinguished persons, 
with the ladies of their households — all resident in Washing- 
ton during that memorable winter and forming, a galaxy of tal- 
ent, beauty, and accomplishment which has never been sur- 
passed in any subsequent period of Washington Society. 

*The Marine Band of Washington has made music at every great entertain- 
ment, levee, funeral, or parade held at the Capital since its foundation. It was 
formerly esteemed the greatest band on the continent, but has of late years grown 
rusty and inferior. There are fifty pieces in it, and its leader, a Mr. Scala, re- 
ceives $75 a month, the men being all enlisted at $21 a month. They live out- 
side the barracks, marry, draw rations, keep shops, and are chiefly foreigners. 
This band needs overhauling. 


A grand entertainment was given on the evening of the 12th 
of January, 1825, by Congress to the Marquis de La Fayette at 
Williamson's, now Willard's, hotel. The management of the 
affair was entrusted to the Hon. Joel R. Poinsett, M. C. from 
S. C, Secretary of war in Mr. Van Buren's administration. 
This duty Mr. Poinsett discharged with admirable taste and to 
the entire satisfaction* of Congress and its guests. The com- 
pany assembled at six P. M., to the number of two hundred. 
Mr. Gaillard of S. C, President of the Senate, presided at one 
table — Mr. Clay of Ky., Speaker of the House,, at the other. 
The President of -the U. S., James Monroe, sat on one side of 
Mr. Gaillard, and La Fayette on the other. The latter was 
supported by Gen. Samuel Smith of Md., a hero of the Revolu- 
tion, and in the immediate vicinity with Rufus King, Gen. Jack- 
son, John Quincy Adams, Samuel L. Southard, Mr. Calhoun, 
Senators Chandler of Me., and D' Wolf of R. I., Gens. Dearborn, 
Scott, Macomb, Bernard, and Jesup — Commodores Bainbridge, 
Tingley, Stewart, Morris, and other officers of distinction. 

The dinner was prepared by M. Joseph Prospere,. a cele- 
brated French cook who came from New York for the purpose, 
and who charged for his services the modest sum of one hun- 
dred dollars. It was the most elegant and elaborate entertain- 
ment ever given in Washington — many of the dishes being 
unique and artistically ornamented in a style never witnessed 
previously in this country. 

In the midst of the dinner, an old soldier of the Revolution, 
arrived at the hotel from the Shenandoah Valley. He was 
eighty years of age and had served under La Fayette. Mr. Poin- 
sett being informed of his arrival descended to the reception 
room and thence escorted him to the dining-hall on the floor 
above and presented him to the Marquis. " General," said the 
veteran — "you do not remember me. I took you off the field 
when wounded in the fight at Brandywine." " Is your name 
John Near," inquired the Marquis. "It is General," replied 
the veteran. Whereupon the Marquis embraced him in the 
French fashion and congratulated him on his healthy condition 


and long life. John Near also became the guest of Congress 
and remained at Williamson's a fortnight, feasting to his heart's 
content upon the good cheer provided him and retiring to bed 
every night in a comfortable state of inebriation. When he 
returned to Virginia, La Fayette presented him the munificent 
sum of two thousand dollars, with which he bought a farm 
which is now in the possession of his descendants. 

La Fayette at this dinner gave the following toast : " Perpet- 
ual union among the States — It has saved us in times of dan- 
ger, it will save the world." Mr. Clay gave " Gen. Bolivar the 
.Washington of South America and the Republic of Colombia." 

The first private house in Washington thrown open for the 
reception of visitors on New Year's Day was that of the late 
Mr. Ogle Tayloe on La Fayette Square, in the year 1830. 
Here the members of the diplomatic corps were accustomed to 
present themselves, after their official visit to the President, 
arrayed in their court dresses and accompanied by their Secre~ 
taries and attaches. Many years elapsed before this custom 
became general. In 1849 the visitors at the White House 
proceeded thence to the residence of Mrs. Madison, where 
they were hospitably entertained, Mrs. Madison was by far 
the most popular of all the ladies who have presided at the 
White House. Mr. Ogle Tayloe, in his delightful reminiscences, 
tells us " She never forgot a face or a name — had been very 
handsome — was graceful and gracious and was loved alike by 
rich and poor." Mr. Madison, when a member of Congress, 
boarded in her father's house in Philadelphia where he fell in ' 
love with her, then the widow of Mr. Todd. Mrs. Madison was 
■ ruined by her son Payne Todd, who squandered her estate from 
which she would have realized at least one hundred thousand 

On New Year's- Day, 1828, President John Quincy Adams 
wrote in the album of Mrs. Ogle Tayloe a poem of eleven 
stanzas, and of great merit. He received on New Year's Day 
and, like his predecessors Mr. Madison and Mr. Monroe, hospi- 
tably entertained his guests. After his retirement from the 


Presidency ne resided on the corner of Ninth and Sixteenth 
Streets, where until the close of his life he was accustomed to 
receive the calls from ladies and gentlemen on the 1st of Janu- 
ary. Mr. Adams was stiff and ceremonious in his manners, 
and though by no means popular, was always an object of 
respect to the people of Washington. His wife was eminently 
beloved wherever known. 

Forty years ago it was customary among the ladies of Wash- 
ington to wear for the first time at the New Year's reception at 
the White House, their new winter Bonnets, cloaks, shawls, etc., 

General Jackson's receptions, commencing in 1830 and con- 
tinuing till 1837, were marked by a greater infusion of the 
oi polloi than those of his predecessors. He also provided 
refreshments, and in 1836, being the recipient of a prodigious 
cheese from a farmer in Jefferson County, N. Y. ordered it to 
be cut on New Year's Day and distributed in large slices of a 
quarter of a pound weight. Many slices of this cheese were 
trampled under foot on the carpets, and the odor which ascended 
from it was far from savory. 

Mr. Van Buren discontinued the custom of serving refresh- 
ments on New Year's Day at the White House, and it has 
never been revived. 

The Winter of 1852, during the administration of Mr. Fill- 
more, was especially brilliant in Washington. On the 1st of 
January, the reception at the White House was characterized 
by the presence of many distinguished persons from every sec- 
tion of the Union. The agitation of the slavery question 
appeared to have subsided and good-will and fraternity between 
the North and South were once more the order of the day. 

Mr. Fillmore never appeared to better advantage than when 
receiving his friends. His fine person and graceful manner 
rendered him conspicuous in this position. 

His successor, Gen. Pierce, had also the manners of a gen- 
tleman. Mrs. "Pierce was saddened by the death of her son, 
and took little part in the ceremonies of the White House. 


Mr. Buchanan's New Year's receptions did not differ from 
those of his immediate predecessors. Their great charm was 
the presence of the mistress of his household, Miss Harriet 
Lane, now Mrs. Johnston of Baltimore, a woman of exquisite 
loveliness of person and the most charming manners. Who 
that was ever presented to her can forget the graceful success 
of her courtesy and her radiant smile of welcome ? 

During these later years it has gradually become the custom 
for our private citizens to open their houses on the first day of 
the year, so that the unusual spectacle to a New Yorker of 
ladies in the streets on that holiday, is now seldom witnessed. 
Twenty years ago the streets were filled with carriages on the 
first of January, bearing ladies in full dress and without bonnets , 
to the President's house and the residences of other members 
of the Government. 

In Mr. Madison's time Washington was a straggling village, 
without pavements, street lamps, or other signs of civilization. 
The White House itself was enclosed by a common post and 
rail fence, while all the other reservations were unenclosed and 
destitute of trees or any improvement. Even in Mr. Monroe's 
time carriages were frequently mired on Pennsylvania Avenue 
in rainy weather. In 1810, the population of Washington was 
less than that of Georgetown or Alexandria which then each 
contained eight thousand inhabitants. All those adventurous 
spirits like Law, Morris, Greenleaf, and others who had made 
here large investments in real estate, were ruined. Mr. Bush 
of Philadelphia, writing as late as 1841, said he had long before 
lost all confidence in Washington property. It was not until 
the commencement of the Capitol extension in 1851 that the 
city began to show signs of substantial prosperity and to afford 
an earnest of its subsequent greatness and strength. In all 
the past years of its history no improvements equal to those of 
the year 1872 have been made. At least five hundred elegant 
houses have been erected by private enterprise — to say nothing 
of the miles of pavement and drives, constructed by the District 
Government. A few years more of equal enterprise and 



Washington will rank among the most beautiful cities on this 

Washington changed character almost entirely after the war. 
Northern capital moved in and fine architecture prevailed in 
private buildings. The very form of government was altered, 
and a Board of Public Works took the paving of streets out of 
the hands of the local legislature. 

The appropriations are now greater than they have ever been 
in the history of the city,*— far greater than when the place was 
first pitched here. They amount to about $3, 000, 000 direct 
this year, and nearly $2,000,000 more for public edifices. The 
Capitol edifice itself gets a snubbing, the architect being a shy 
man, who had not learned the art of lobbying and could only 
state the necessity of repairs at least. But the great new 
renaissance -building for the State, War, and Navy Departments 
has received a lift which will cover it with stone-cutters as soon as 
Spring opens ; a new statue of General Thomas is ordered, to 
cost ,$40,000 ; and the Farragut statue is taken out of the 
hands of the artists of the lobby. In two years from this period, 
there will be six colossal statues in the streets of this city, 
five of them equestrian, Washington, Jackson, Scott, Grant, 
Thomas, and Farragut, besides out-of-door statues of Lincoln, 
Scott, and Washington. The old City Hall has passed wholly 
' into the possession of the United States, and with the proceeds 
and a diversion of city funds, a new Hotel de Ville will be 
erected in front of the great new market-house, which has cost 
$300,000. Several new street-railways are authorized, and the 
building-permits applied for or granted show an extraordinary 
advance in construction, much of which is of a villa character 
in the suburbs. In May, the whole line of the , Baltimore & 
Potomac Road will be opened, as well as the new Metropolitan 
Branch of the Baltimore & Ohio. And the Municipal Govern- 
ment has spent $8,300,000 in about eighteen inonths, according 
to its own report, and its opponents say $14,000,000, assessed 
upon nearly .the full valuation of property. 

The enormous aqueduct which runs eighteen miles, through 


eleven tunnels and over six bridges, is at last completed and 
connected with the city, at a total cost of about $6,000,000. 
Five bridges of the most durable character, probably good for 
the nest quarter of a century, span Rock Creek. One hundred 
and twenty miles of water-main are now in use in this District, 
of which twelve miles have been raised or lowered to the new 
grades ; and 530 fire-plugs, 255 public hydrants, and many 
drinking-fountains carry off the 31,000,000 gallons used every 
twenty-four hours in this Capital, which is but 20,000,000 less 
than all Paris gets from its government. 

The amount of paving done in the past sixteen months is 
almost incredible in view of the former slow and conservative 
progress of the city. Ninety-three miles of brick and concrete 
sidewalks, and 115 miles of concrete, wood, round-block, grav- 
eled, cobblestone, Macadam, or Belgium block street have been 
laid. Add to this seventy miles of tile-sewer, and eight n ' 
of brick main sewerage through which a buggy can be drivei 
with ease, and the obliteration of the old Tiber Creek and canal 
by one of the largest sewers in the world, in diameter from 20 
to 30 feet, and you will see that old Washington is no more. 
The landmarks have perished from the eye. And the names 
of the streets are also to be changed, — those running from north 
to south to be numbered from First to Sixtieth, instead of First 
street West, Second street East, etc. ; and those running from 
east to west are to be no longer lettered A, B, C, D, etc., but 
named, alphabetically, Adams, Benton, Clay, Douglas, etc., on 
one side, and Anderson, Bainbridge, Chauncey., ] ecatur, etc., 
on the other. 

The Board of Public Works claims that, between 1802-72, 
the Federal Government has spent but $1,321,288 on the streets 
of the Capital, while the municipality spent upon the same 
$13,921,767; adding Georgetown's expenditure, $2,000,000 




Op which are we representative, who presume to write about 
these legislators and their legislation ? We are representative 
of an institution coeval with modern forms of government ; an 
institution as human as government, as apt to be wrong as 
parties ; more apt to right up promptly and to see the new 
dispensation than parties ; far less sacred than government 
itself, and no longer a mystery except to the ignorant — the 
press ! Under various forms we are all striving, in our 
different ways and according to our several sagacities, or 
want of sagacity, to determine what the people want. If they 
want the little and 'he small, the half-peck measure, the 
microscope view, the sordid, the pensioned, the deferential, 
we have cords of it amongst us ! If they want the substantial, 
the results, the ostensible, the official conclusions, the 
supremely conventional, heie it is ! I n "ght give you in- 
stances of these types, but what is the u le ? Most of you 
illustrate for yourselves. If the atmosphere and stimulus of 
this sort of legislative society are also wanted, the clues, the 



missing sequences, the leanings, the entity of separate acts, 
here a little class works for that also. You have only, in your 
vast aggregate of the class of readers, to coalesce with the 
parties which exist, to make your journalism nothing but your 
prejudice : the daily color of the bile which you raise. A 
nervous, absorbing, not lucrative profession is ours. Without 
an intellectual passion in it, it is apt to be degenerating. It 
has its apprentices and its journeymen, its faithful file and 
its acquitted rank. It is no nearer perfection now than 
Congress, the Executive Staff, or the people. But the history 
of journalism as related to our government is curious and 
progressive. The democratic passion has broken in upon its 
former exclusiveness. Instead of being the cats-paw of leaders, 
it is a daily convenience of 'the people. Reader and writer 
are more mutually dependent than formerly, and both regard 
the politician as a kind of middleman, who subsists by shaving 

Let. us take up the subject of government journalism. 

The first paper started under the Federal Government was 
John Fenno's Grazette.qf the United States, at New York. It 
was indirectly controlled by the Treasury Department, then 
the only department with much pap, and was the organ of 
Hamilton. John Adams was a correspondent for it, under 
the name of " Davilla." To offset this paper, Madison gave 
assistance to Freneau in establishing the National Gazette, and 
Jefferson gave Philip Freneau, who was a college graduate, 
the only disposable office in the State Department, translating 

These papers are collected in the library of Congress, and 
the following is the head of Fenno's prospectus in his first 
number : * 


rr OP THE 

To be published at the seat of the Federal Government, and 
to comprise, as fully as possible, the following objects, viz. : 


1. Early and authentic accounts of the proceedings of 


2. Impartial sketches of the debates of Congress. 

3. Essays on the great subject of government in general, 

and the Federal Legislature in particular. 

4. A series of paragraphs calculated to catch the " living 

manners as they rise," &c, &c, &c. 
Published every Wednesday and Saturday. Three dollars 
per annum, exclusive of postage. Subscriptions will be received 
in all the capital towns upon the continent ; also, at the City 
Coffee House, and at No. 86 William street. 

John Fenno. 
April 15, 1789. 

Freneau, the Madisonian editor, was the abler of the two, and, 
from the beginning, the outside aggressive journalism of the 
country has been .more influential and better sustained than 
the pap-journalism. Freneau finally provoked Hamilton, in 
the third year of Washington's administration, to reply to him 
anonymously, saying truly that to be a government clerk and 
edit a political paper was* " indelicate, unfit, and inconsistent 
with republican purity." Freneau published an affidavit deny- 
ing that Jefferson ever gave a cent, or wrote a line for his 
paper. This was the first newspaper war under the republic ; 
Washington interfered in it. Freneau's . official salary was 
$250 a year ; he modelled and took much of his news from the 
Ley den (Holland) Gazette . Jefferson is said to have always 
affected unconcern in newspapers. Hamilton began public 
life as a newspaper contributor, and he instigated the earliest 
personal journalism under the government. Jefferson, however, 
alleged that Freneau had saved the Republic from being mon- 
archized. Freneau's field was soon competed for by Bache, 
Franklin's grandson, in the Advertiser, afterward the Aurora, 
and the Jeffersonian press wrote compactly and in unison 
over all the country. Then Madison, under the name of 
" Helvidius," attacked Hamilton, who wrote under the name 


of " Pacificus." Washington wrote that the " publications in 
Freneau's and Bache's papers were outrages on decency;" 
nevertheless, Freneau sent him three copies gratis every 

The administration of Washington closed gloomily, and Dr. 
Michael Leib, afterward Congressman and Senator, wrote in 
the Aurora, the day the President retired to peace, an article 
upon the corruptions of the Administration, that a ship con- 
tractor cudgelled him for. When Adams came in, almost the 
whole press was Jeffersonian, and Freneau and Bache had 
completely exhausted Hamilton with his own favorite weapon, 
the pen. Hamilton was pursued still further ; in 1797, 
Thomas Callendar, a pamphleteer, whose descendants are 
said to be still booksellers in Philadelphia, exposed Hamilton's 
liaison with a Mrs. Reynolds, and many indecent letters were 

The defeated Hamiltonians patronized William Cobbett and 
his Porcupine's Gazette, the' eighth daily paper published in 
Philadelphia eighty-three years ago, more than in all the 
country. Cobbett was then an English Tory, and he did the 
Federalists more harm than good. He got into collisions with 
Noah Webster, then a New York editor. In 1797 he was put 
under bonds for libelling the Spanish Minister. Matthew 
Carey was also a Jeffersonian editor at that time. Callender 
was always getting on a drunk, and Cobbett was always 
getting into court ; so John Adams' party resolved upon a 
sedition law to break up the anti-Federalist press. By opposi- 
tion the journals thrived and grew steadily bolder. 

The Aurora accomplished the first newspaper " beat," by 
printing Talleyrand's despatches against the partiality of the 
Adams administration before the government got them. This 
led to a deep jealousy against the newspapers, as dangerous 
malcontents and usurpers of government authority. 

In 1798, the " Party," otherwise the administration, and 
the press came to a colossal trial of strength. James Lloyd, 
of Maryland, presented the Sedition Bill, especially aimed at 


the Aurora newspaper. Hamilton warned the Federalists 
against it ; but it passed. • In essentials, it was the French 
censorship system without warnings. At this time Philadel- 
phia had eight daily papers, New York five, Baltimore two, 
Boston only semi-weeklies. The Minerva in New York, now 
the Commercial Advertiser, was the ablest Federal paper. 

The yellow fever, of 1798, slew Bache, the editor of the 
Aurora ; but James Duane, born on the shores of Lake Cham- 
plain of Irish parents, stepped into the vacant seat. This man 
had established the first English newspaper in the British East 
Indies. He married Bache's widow, and rode forth to slay. 
The yellow fever killed Fenno, also, and his son carried on the 

The first victim of the Sedition law was Matthew Lyon, of 
Pennsylvania, sentenced to four weeks' imprisonment and $1,000 
fine. Lyon was elected to Congress forthwith. The papers 
now took each other's part, though without organization, and 
in half a dozen places at once prosecutions began. The Su- 
preme Court was a creature of the Federalists, to silence attacks 
upon the government. Next, Federal militia officers assaulted 
Duane. Duane's lawyer, Cooper, was hounded to jail by the 
implacable Federalists. Chase, the Federal Justice, ^afterward 
impeached, then went to Richmond, Virginia, and prosecuted 
Callender, who was publishing there. Meantime, even Cobbet 
was driven out of Pennsylvania, and his property sold behind 
him. He retired to England, and there began the first com- 
plete report of the parliamentary debates ever published, while 
he also conducted a great political journal, no longer reaction- 
ary, but radical. Thus, parliamentary reporting over the world 
may be said to have been born at the American seat of govern- 

Philadelphia, where these inhospitable things had been 
wrought upon the press, experienced a successive intellectual 
decline after the passage of the Sedition law. It has not had 
one great newspaper since the Capital quitted it. No better did 
it fare with the party which passed to conclusions the tyrannical 


Sedition law. The Federal party departed dishonored. Adams 
and Hamilton mutually destroyed each other at last, and the 
spectacle was witnessed of the beaten lights of centralization 
endeavoring to elect Aaron Burr to the Presidency over Thomas 
Jefferson. In 1801, the Sedition law expired. 

The removal of the public offices to the new city of Wash- 
ington, was the signal for two new papers, the National Intelli-. 
gencer, Jeffersonian, edited by Samuel Harrison Smith, of 
Philadelphia, long called by the Federalists, " The National 
Smoothing-plane," and attacked by Duane's more radical- con- 
temporary, as edited by " Silky, Milky Smith." The opposition 
paper was the Washington Federalist, which tumbled to pieces 
as the gall of its faction wore out. 

About the same time the Evening Post appeared for Hamil- 
ton at New York. Callender, then publishing a paper at Rich- 
mond, was refused a Post Office by Jefferson, and he published 
statements of his patron's negro amours until he fortunately fell 
into the James River and was drowned. The Clinton Republi- 
cans of New York now put James Cheetham, an Englishman, 
in the American Citizen paper, and he began to flay Burr. Burr 
forthwith established the Morning Chronicle. In this latter 
fight we hear the first of the Dent family, one of whom took an 
office for his vote against Burr. The end of this triangular con- 
test was the death of Hamilton. He was a gallant, arrogant 
figure, but he had all the military vices. He planned a gov- 
ernment which should appreciate himself, and he threw himself 
to pieces against the greater politician, Jefferson. 

In 1804, Thomas Ritchie established a Jeffersonian journal at 
Richmond, called the Enquirer, the first influential Southern 
paper, " warm, lucid, gossiping," as Hildreth says of it. 

In 1812, the Alexandria (Ya.) Herald committed the first 
breach of privilege in publishing a report of a secret session 
upon a proposed Embargo bill. The editor got off, though he 
refused to give the name of the leaky member. 

In 1812, occurred the Baltimore riots over Alexander Han- 
son's Baltimore Federal Republican, partly stimulated by its 


rival, the Baltimore Whig. Baltimore was a red-hot war city 
in Madison's time, and the people were tired of the " old Feds," 
who were opposed to everything but the English. However, 
the British got into Washington, and the Intelligencer office was 
torn out by Admiral Cockburn, in person, in 1814. 

The Intelligencer suffered nothing by this accident. It was 
forever a decent and cleanly-clad pensioner upon the United 
States — Jeffersonian till Jackson's time, and then Whig till 
Lincoln's time, when it became rebel Democratic, and went 
into the lobby under Johnny Coyle. It was, in its best days, 
cold-hearted, didactic, rather a " bore," except to a reverent 
man, a sort of Sunday-school journal for grown-up sinners. It 
never fulfilled its business contracts, was always praying for 
relief or subsidy ; was swindled by its business clerks, and it 
did nothing for independent literature. But it had the longest 
existence of any merely national journal. 

This grave old affectation of a newspaper used to say not 
one word for perhaps a week after the issuing of a President's 
message. Then it would appear with a didactic broadside of 
comment, which would be meat for Whig journals all over the 

When Jackson's new Democratic party drove the friends of 
Monroe and Adams to the wall, he resolved upon a new jour- 
nalist, and a journalistic system as tyrannical and as dynastic 
as his own nature. He sent down to Kentucky for this indi- 
vidual, and fetched up Frank Blair, — not to be the Freneau of 
the period, not the witty and fertile aggressor, but the organizer 
of the newspaper system ; and we probably owe to Frank Blair 
the little that is left of the disposition on the part of party 
organization to cow editors and read newspapers out of the 
party. Blair was one of the worst satraps ever engaged in the 
interest of power against political literature. 

During much of Jackson's administration, the quaint, and 
quaintly named, Duff Green published the Telegraph for Cal- 
houn, against old Frank Blair's G-lobe and Gales' Intelligencer. 
On, or about this time, Reuben M. Whitney, who wrote finan- 


cial articles for the Grlobe, was threatened with death in com- 
mittee-room by Baillie Peyton and Henry A. Wise. They put 
offensive questions to him, and Whitney retorted in kind. 
These honorable members carried loaded pistols and confessed 
to their brutality and cowardice at the bar of the House. Inves- 
tigating committees have little improved in thirty years. Whit- 
ney was afterward John Tyler's Register of the Land Office. 

The Graves and Cilley duel, in 1838, arose from Cilley's charg- 
ing correspondent James Watson Webb with receiving a bribe 
of $52,000 from the bank of the United States. Graves took 
Webb's message and Cilley declined to recognize Webb as a 
gentleman, or " to get into difficulties with public journalists." 
This duel, in reality, was a blood-thirsty Whig conspiracy, in 
which Webb and Wise were equally and disgracefully promi- 

Seaton, of the Intelligencer, was Harrison's host and Wash- 
ington city's mayor, when the hard-cider party triumphed. 

Henry Clay was a thin-skinned public man. Old Blair 
punctured his vanity deeply, and Clay revenged himself by 
taking a printing job from him. " I consider the Grlobe a libel, 
and Blair a common libeller," said Clay at the same time in- 
sulting Senator King, of Alabama. He had to make a public 
apology to King, who alleged of Blair that " for kindness of 
heart, humanity, and exemplary deportment, Mr. Blair could 
proudly compare with the Senator from Kentucky." 

Tyler's organ was the Madisonian, edited by Thomas Allen 
and John B. Jones — poor shoats. Jones still lives. He edited 
a paper at Philadelphia, called the Monitor, in 1857, and paid 
the correspondent G-ath the first dollars he ever received for 
writing. This is the best evidence that he was a poor editor. 
In the Madisonian office, John Wentworth and Stephen A. 
Douglas heard and applauded Tyler's resignation in favor of 
Polk, both of them here to represent Illinois for the first time. 

On the 19th of June, 1841, Morse set up the telegraph 
between Washington and Baltimore. The Sun was probably 
the first paper in the country to receive dispatches from the 


Polk brought out old Blair, and brought Father Ritchie from 
Richmond to edit his new paper, the Union. The vener- 
able Blair forthwith retired from his long autocracy of luxuri- 
ous pensionership ; he had been the most dependent independ- 
ent man who ever reduced public sentiment to a printing job. 
This old " galvanized corpse," as Clay called him, had largely 
ruled the party which ruled the United States for three admin- 
istrations. He used to prepare an article in the Globe office 
and send slips of it to the papers dependent on him for an edi- 
torial policy ; these papers would alter it and publish it ; then 
old Blair would copy back into his own paper these modified 
articles, making a whole broad sheet, and call them " Voice of 
the Democratic press." This tyrannical and gifted old man- 
used to be the political Pope of the party, to read people out 
of it. Some of his successors try to carry the keys, but there 
is no party now-a-days strong enough to afford to lose a news- 
paper. I saw old Blair this day riding into town on horseback, 
with his wife — a stoutish old dame with bunches of luxuriant 
white hair. There were some great elements about those Ken- 
tucky folks. 

It was in February, 1858, that the Honorable William Saw- 
yer, of Wisconsin, took up the New York Tribune, and found 
himself writ down a " critter," who ate sausages behind the 
Speaker's chair and wiped his hands on his bald head. "Then," 
said the article, " he picks his teeth with a jack-knife, and goes 
on the floor to abuse the "Whigs as the British party." 

The article was signed " Persimmon." William E. Robin- 
son, " Richelieu," correspondent of the same paper, endorsed 
it. Sawyer rose to a question of privilege, and drew upon him- 
self the everlasting name of " Sausage Sawyer," while "Riche- 
lieu," expelled, betook himself to the gallery, and thence 
worked down to be a member of Congress. 

In May, 1848, John Nugent, of the New York Herald, got 
an advance copy of Polk's Mexican treaty, a " confidential doc- 
ument " to the Senate. Nugent refused at the bar of the Sen- 
ate to tell who gave it to him, and he was put in jail till the 
end of the session. 


Gamaliel Bailey, with the National Era, in which he pub- 
lished " Uncle Tom's Cabin," was mobbed by a howling pro- 
slavery society, very high-toned, in April, 1848. The occasion 
was some crazy Abolitionists running off seventy-seven negroes 
in a vessel. Peter Force acted as Mayor, to preserve the peace. 
James Clephane, clerk in the Era office, drove the offending 
mariners safely out of town by night four years afterward. 

In 1850, the Southern Press was started in Washington, to 
drive the Northern papers out of the South. It was a dead 

In Fillmore's administration some of the correspondents used 
to get into the reception room next door to the Cabinet room, 
and overhear the discussions. Daniel Webster discovered it, 
and had a door interposed. 

In Pierce's time, Forney and the Union newspaper began to 
make a noise. Giddings, of Ohio, wanted the whole set expel- 
led. Frank Pierce was so sensitive about newspaper corre- 
spondents, that he had printers set his message in the White 
House. Giddings used these prophetic words about Forney at 
that time : 

" The editor has read me out of the pale of human society, 
but the day will come when no individual will have that power 
or authority." 

The civil war enormously increased the influence of the 
press. Persons who had previously taken one weekly paper, 
began to take one or more dailies, in order to read the news 
from the front and to follow the career of their sons and neigh- 
bors in the army. About one hundred correspondents were 
kept in the field, and these had to compete with the narrow 
military spirit which resented criticism and frequently sought 
to set the correspondents aside and debar them from informa- 
tion. The correspondents however remained in journalism after 
the war was over when they again encountered the military 
men as politicians and Congressmen. The press had now 
become quite independent of merely partisan patronage and 
openly entered the lists against the corruptions which had sur- 


vived the war. The national campaign of 1872 was inaugur- 
ated by editors, and a journalist was placed in nomination. 
Although the combination was beaten, the press kept the sym- 
pathy of the country, and none of the journals which had un- 
dertaken to chasten public affairs lost in circulation or influ- 
ence. The charges of loose morals, bribery, and collusion with 
railroad capitalists, which had been made during the campaign, 
were clearly proven true by an investigating committee. The 
chairman of this committee, Judge Poland of Vermont, had a 
short time previously exonerated a journalist who had made 
reckless charges on some issue where he was but partly 
informed. Two newspaper men, who obtained a treaty in some 
surreptitious way, were indicted at the bar of the Senate but set 
loose. So formidable had the press become as a purifying in- 
strumentality that one of the Senators, Harlan, joined the pro- 
fession in order to get square with the correspondents. His 
efforts in this direction were chiefly notable for their squeam- 
ishness and absurdity. The newspapers which won most repu- 
tation in the contest with jobbery were the Springfield Hejmb- 
lican, the New York Tribune, -the New York Sun, the New 
York Herald, the Cincinnati Commercial, and the Chicago 





The Dome of the Capitol, as you know, overhangs the 
middle of the great building, whose name, in any monarchical 
country, would be the "Palace of the Legislative Body," as 
even in this country the White House was originally named 
the President's Palace, and so described by Washington. 

The old Capitol building had three domes upon it ; the 
middle one, standing in the place of the present dome, was 
constructed of wood, and it stood one hundred and forty-two 
feet lower than the present. In 1856, it was removed, and the 
construction of the new dome began, which occupied nine 
years. It is formed almost entirely of cast iron, resting upon 
the old Capitol edifice, which, to support so vast additional 
weight, has been trussed up, buttressed, and strengthened, so 
that it seems to cower beneath the threatening mass of its 
superimposed burden. 

Let us look at this dome. 

Poised over the middle of the long white rectangle of build- 
ings, the great dome "rises in two orders : a drum of iron 




columns first encircling it, with an open gallery and balustrade 
at the top; then an order of tall, slim windows ; then a great 
series of brackets, holding the plated and ribbed roof, which 
ascends, balloon-fashion, to a gallery, within which is a tall 
lantern, surrounded with columns, like a cupola, and over this 
a bronze figure of Liberty, capped with eagle feathers, holding 


in her right hand a sheathed sword, in her left a wreath and 
shield. She faces east. Her back is to the settled city of the 
Capital. Excepting this figure, which is of a rich bronze 
color, and the dark-glazed windows, the whole dome is white 
as marble. The whole of it, as you see it from the ground, is 
made of cast-iron ; but it harmonizes well in tint with the 
Capitol building, and is of such symmetrical proportions that 
it gives you no impression of excessive weight, 
i It was on the second day of December, 1863, that, at a 
signal gun from Fort Stanton, across the eastern branch, the 
head and shoulders of the genius Of Liberty began to arise 
from the ground. As it slowly ascended the exterior of the 
dome, gun after gun rang out from the successive forts encir- 
cling the city ; when it reached the summit of the lantern, and 
joined its heretofore beheaded body, all the artillery of the 
hills saluted again, and the flags were dipped on every ship 


and encampment. Majesty and grace are names for it, and 
holding at its cloudy height the boldest conception of Liberty, 
its genius looks calmly into the sunrise, and at night, like a 
directress of the stars, lives among them, as if in the constel- 
lation of her own banner. 

Having ta,ken this observation, let us climb to the rotunda. 
Now look straight up. You are amidst and. beneath a vast 
hollow sphere of iron, weighing 8,009,200 lbs. How much 
is that ? More than four thousand tons ; or about the weight 
of seventy thousand full-grown people ; or about equal to a 
thousand laden coal cars, which, holding four tons apiece, 
would reach two miles and a-half. Directly over your head is 
a figure in bronze, weighing 14,985 lbs. If it should fall 
plumb down, it would mash you as if thirty-seven hogs, 
weighing four hundred pounds a piece, were dropped on your 
head from a height of two hundred and eighty-eight feet. 
This bronze figure is v &ixieeii feet and a-half high, and with its 
pedestal nineteen feet and a-half. Right over your head, 
suspended like a canopy, is a sheet of metal and plaster 
covered with allegorical paintings. This hangs between you 
and the bronze statue of Liberty, and is a hundred and eighty 
feet distant. There are, therefore, one hundred and eight feet 
of the full height of the dome which you cannot' see at all 
within, and in like manner the diameter of the rotunda in 
which you stand is ninety-seven feet, or eleven feet less than 
the exterior diameter of the great dome, far above, and thirty- 
eight feet less than the extreme exterior diameter at the base. 
The old rotunda erected here by Bulfinch was ninety-six feet 

This dome differs interiorly at present from most others by 
being a mere cylinder, closed with a dome, whereas, nearly all 
famous domes besides are raised upon churches, which are 
cross-shaped, and project a dome from the abutments of the 
hollow cross. In these abutments, high up, statues are com- 
monly set, as in St. Peter's, where the .four angels are placed 
there. No merely civil edifice in the world can boast a dome 
at all approaching these proportions. 


The pressure of the iron dome upon its piers and pillars is 
13,477 pounds to the square foot. St. Peter's presses nearly 
20,000 pounds more to. the square foot, and St. Genevieve, at 
Paris, 46,000 pounds more. It would require to crush the 
supports of our dome a pressure of 755,280 pounds to the 
square foot. 

The first part of the rotunda, next to the floor, is a series 
of panels, divided from each other by Grecian pilasters, or 
axtoe, which support the first entablature, a bold one, with 
wreaths of olive interwoven in it. 

The decorations of the dome consist of four great basso- 
relievos, over the four exit doors from it, and of eight oil 
paintings, each containing from twenty to a hundred figures, 
life-size. These paintings are set in great panels in the wall, 
under the lower entablature. Four of them are by Colonel 
Trumbull, Aid-de-Camp to Washington, the* " Porte Crayon " 
of the Revolution, and these are altogether the best historical 
paintings which the country has yet produced. The other 
four paintings, with forty years advantage over those of 
Trumbull, are deteriorations. Three of them represent, 
respectively, the marriage of Pocahontas, the landing of 
Columbus, and the discovery of the Mississippi. They are 
poorer than the average of paintings in the gallery of Versailles, 
and scarcely rise above the art of house and sign painting. 
The other picture, Prayer on the Mayflower, has good faces 
in it, and dignity of expression, but it is dull of color, and with- 
out any breadth of light. Trumbull's pictures are conscien- 
tious portraits, the work of thirty years' study ; they are 
without any genius, and timid in grouping ; but accurate, 
appropriate, and invaluable. Congress gave him an order for 
the whole four at once, and wisely. The others ought to be 
taken down when we can get anything better, and sent into 
some of the committee rooms. 

The basso-relievos in the panels, above the paintings, are 
works of two Italians, pupils of Canova, named Causici and 
Capellano, who, like a great many other itinerant Italians, have 
dono work about the Capitol. One or two of them, disgusted 


with the American taste in art, or stricken with the national 
benzine, jumped into the Potomac, and made their lives more 
romantic than their works. These base reliefs are only of three 
or four figures each, and are copied from curious old engravings, 
cotemporary with the events ; they are not beautiful, but odd, and 
make variety amidst our perennial and distressing newness. 
Between these large reliefs are carved heads of Columbus, 
Raleigh, La Salle, and Cabot. 

These pictures, true 'and disgraceful both to the national 
taste, answer in general the purpose of pleasing people. Learned 
rustics may be seen laboriously criticising them to their sweet- 
hearts. The privilege is also accorded to artists and others of 
exhibiting their models and amateur sketches in the rotunda, 
whereby all sorts of strange prodigies appear, flattering, at 
least, to our democratic charity, but very amusing to foreigners. 

Above this series of relievos and paintings, there is a broad 
frieze, intended to be painted in imitation of basso-relievo^ 
Above this frieze there is another entablature ; these are broken 
up by tall windows on the outer circumference of the walls of ' 
the dome, and at places between the domes can be seen glimpses 
of galleries and stairways ascending between the inner and 
outer walls. At last, the interior concave walls of the dome 
proper made to represent panels of oak foliage, rise in dimin- 
ishing circles to the amphitheatre in the eye of the dome, which 
is sixty feet in diameter, and surrounded with a gallery all of 
iron. Down through the eye of the dome looks the great fresco 
painting of Brumidi, and you can see people the size of toys 
walking directly under this fresco, looking now up, now down. 

It will cost to finish and paint this dome as it should be 
done, not less than $250,000. For the painting in the frieze, 
$20,000 will be required ; to reform the architecture of the 
dome by reducing the number of the entablatures will cost, 
probably, $100,000. To paint the iron panels in imitation of 
oak, as they are cast, will cost $30,000 to $50,000. It was the 
intention to have buried Washington under the floor of the 
rotunda ; this failing, to bury Lincoln there, and to open a 


large galleried place in the floor, through which the visitor 
could look at the sarcophagus, as is the case with the tomb of 
Napoleon, under the dome of the Hotel des Invalides, in Paris. 
In either case, the families of the dead objected, and with good 
taste ; for a rotunda, used for profane and noisy flirting, hob- 
nobbing, lobbying, and loitering, is no place for a hallowed 
sepulture. Here the statue of "Washington, by Greenough, 
stood, till removed by barbarous enactment, in all its Roman 
nakedness, into the adjacent park. Something of the worthiest 
and most colossal is requisite here — a statue of Public Opinion, 
say, or an allegory of Destiny, or an effigy of Democracy. So, 
around the sides of the dome, there are spaces for statues and 
busts, which ought some day to be filled. 

Situated midway between the two houses of Congress, at the 
middle of the Capitol, and across all the avenues of communica- 
tion, the rotunda under the dome obtains, as it always will 
obtain, an important and picturesque place in the history of 
legislation. There are iron settees around it, where wait for 
appointments of various sorts, people of all qualities and pur- 
suits, some to waylay, some to rest, some to see the infinite 
variety of race or station, or behavior of passing people. Bright 
paintings encircle it, for height and admissible enterprise are 
suggested there ; something curiously instructive, some problem 
to the thought, is everywhere. Danger and power, suppositious 
accident and vivid carnival, fill up the hours. It is one of the 
most curious studies in the world, and destined to be the scene 
of vital conferences, wild collisions, perhaps of solemn ceremo- 
nials, sometimes of happiness, sometimes. of anarchy, sit here, 
under this high concave ; and, while the feet of the perpetual 
passengers fill the void w ith echoes, you may interpret them to 
the coming of the mob, when legislation is too slow for brutal 
party rage, or some unflinching Senator may hear from hence 
the howling of Public Opinion. Here may some brave act the 
best assassination ; here may be promised the price of eminent 
treason. Here may some conquering army, mastering the 
Capitol once more, unfurl their foreign standards, and with 



their enthusiasm or orchestras celebrate the fall of the Repub- 
lic. So long as the people reign, the Capitol of the United 
States will not be distributed between the wings, but concen- 
tratedeunder the dome. The rotunda is western human nature's 
amphitheatre. Here will stroll the chaotic dictator of Democ- 
racy, with its hundred hands on the wires of the continent. 
Many a fair face will do temptation upon patriotism and public 
duty in the broad sounding area of assignation, typical as it is 
oi the arcana of the earth, where the individual voice but rolls 
into the general echo ; the general echo is sometimes articulate, 
but the highest shout that all can raise stays a little while, and 
expires in stronger silence. The dome, with its hungry, hollow 
belly, is government as you find it, familiar with its gluttonies 
and processes, its dyspepsias and cramps. The outer dome is 
government as the vast mass of citizens behold it — white and 
monumental, and crowned with Liberty. 

How is this vast height lighted, is the next question. Here 
we are in the battery room, which adjoins the dome. The smell 
of the acids, ranged in quadruple circles around the place, in glass 
jars as big as horse-buckets, has no other effect upon the battery- 
tender, he says, than to make him fat. There are here one 
hundred and eighty cells set up and filled with sulphuric acid, 
after the principle of Smee, constituting altogether the strongest 
battery in the world, and which furnishes the power to Mr. 
Gardiner's electro-magnetic apparatus, which lights the lan- 
tern, the dome and the rotunda, touching up thirteen hundred 
gas-burners in a few moments. The whole machinery cost 
about thirty thousand dollars. Of itself, this beautiful and 
almost miraculous apparatus deserves a newspaper "article. 
The power is fifty tons, as if a thunder cloud as heavy as a 
laden canal boat were concentrated on the point of a needle, 
and " fetched " you a dash in the eye. To light up the Capitol 
by this machinery, there is an electro-magnetic engine, with 
connecting wires to all the burners in the building, and to each 
wire a metallic pointer ; the gas is turned on by cranks, answer- 
ing each to a portion of the Capitol ; then the magnetic bolt is 


darted up tho proper wire ; in thirty seconds the darkness is 
ablaze. This apparatus occupies one of the old wing domes of 
wood, the dome being the battery room, the engine standing next 
door. Thus the old building sends light up to the new one. ; the 
little dome holds fire for the great dome. You should see them 
turn the great dome from perfect night to perfect day. Stand 
under it ! A little moon dazes the far up slits of windows ; the 
concave oye is absolute night ; all the sculptures are lost upon 
the wall ; color and action are gone out of the historic canvases ; 
the stone floor of the rotunda might be some great cathredal's, 
for you can only feel the gliding objects going by, and hear the 
dull, commingling echoes of feet and whispers. 

At a wink the great hollow sphere is aflame. You can see 
the spark-spirit run on tip-toe around the high entablature, 
planting its fire-fly foot on every spear of bronze ; a blaze 
springs up on each ; chasing each other hither and thither, the 
winged torch-bearing fairies on the several levels race down the 
aisles to the remote niches, to lateral halls, to stairways all 
variegated with polished marbles, over illuminated sky-lights 
armorially painted. Your thought does not leap so instantly ; 
and people far off in the city see the lantern at .the feet of the 
statue of Liberty, arise in the sky as if a star had lighted it. 
Since the first commandment of God to the earth, light has had 
no such messenger. It is nearest to will — it vindicates Moses. 

No great building in the world is so lighted, except the 
Academy of Music, and some theatres in New York. But 
thirty thousand dollars is dear even for a miracle. Matches 
are high. 

Standing here, at so lofty an altitude, one is apt to suppose 
that he has reached the king of human peaks.. Not so. St. 
Peter's at Rome, is 432 feet high to the lantern, or 144 feet 
higher than the tip of this airy Liberty. St. Paul's in London, 
is seventy-two feet higher than this. 

And the great Capitol itself, down upon which we are looking, 
covering 652 square feet, more than three and a half acres, is 
one-eighth smaller than St. Peter's Church, and only one-fifth 
larger than St. Paul's. 



Yet it is high enough for timid people. The highest part of 
the Capitol building is nearly two hundred feet below us. 

How much money is there in all this Capitol ? What did it 
cost ? Upon the aggregate head, I doubt if the congregated con- 
sciences of all the architects and builders of the Capitol can 
reply, exactly. One gentleman, who has been figuring up at it 
a long time, estimates the cost at $39,000,000. »The lowest esti- 
mate I have heard at all was $15,000,000. But let us see what 
is the architect's statement. The entire cost of the old Capi- 
tol, down to 1827, was less than $1,800,000. St, Peter's 
Church, at Rome, cost $19,i300,000. The new Court House in 
New York, is said to have cost $8,000,000. People have talked 
foolishly about the cost of the public edifices at the seat of 
government. Here are some precise figures, as Mr. Clark gave 
them to me. They do not include the furnishing of the build- 
ings, however : 

Cost of the library apartments, - - • - $ 780,500 
" u u Oil painting by Walker : 

" Storming of Chapultepec," - - 6,000 

Five water closets in the House of Representa- 
tives, ... . 2,178 
Annual repairs, - - - 15,000 
Annual repairs for dome, - - 5,000 
Heating old Capitol (centre), - - 15,000 
Cost of the new wings of the Capitol, - - 6,433,621 
Cost of building the dome, - - *- 1,125,000 
Total cost of construction of all the public 

buildings in Washington City, - 27,715,522 

It is very pleasant to visit the Capitol in the recess. After 
Congress adjourns, we begin to know each other. The carpen- 
ter and the barber go fishing together. The architect of the 
Capitol inquires for your family. The Capitol policemen and 
the officers of the barracks near by stop at your door-step to 
chat with your baby. It is like living in some college town 
during the vacation, and very cool, amiable, and agreeable is 
Capitol Hill in Summer. 



At Whitney's I saw, a few days ago, a white bearded old 
gentleman, of a Northern and business habit and address. He 
had a brown complexion, a square-ended nose, beveled at the 
tip, and a hearty down-east manner. 

" Don't you know Mr. Fowler, Gath?" said a gentleman near 
by. " This is Mr. Charles Fowler, who built the dome of the 

Mr. Fowler was born in Hartford, Connecticut. He is, or 
was, a member of the former firm of iron founders, Fowler & 
Beeby, at Read and Centre streets, New York. He was the 
lowest bidder to cast the patterns for the dome, and that noble 
piece of iron work, solitary in the world, was set up by him. 
Perhaps you can best get the spirit of what he had to say in 
the categorial form in which he gave it. 

" What was your contract, Mr. Fowler, when you first under- 
took to build the dome ?" 

" Seven cents a pound for all the iron used. The architect, 
Thomas )$. Walter, made the designs, piece by piece. They 
ran, for example, an inch to eight feet. I was to x -ut up the 
dome, furnishing all the scaffolds, workmen, and so forth, for 
seven cents a pound." 

" Did they keep their bargain ?" 

" No. General Franklin was superintending engineer when 
I first arrived here. He made the contract for the War De- 
partment. After I had run the dome up to the top of the first 
order, or the drum, as you see it there, General Meigs was put 
in Franklin's place. He cut my contract down, arbitrarily, to 
six cents a pound. I consulted my lawyers, and they said : 

' This cutting down of your contract is a piece of force, having 
no authority in law. But if you don't submit to it, you will 
be kept out of your money at ruinous expense. So accept it 
and come back upon the justice 'of the government at another 

" Therefore I took the six cents, and the work was stopped. 

"The yard of the Capitol was littered with iron, Senator Foot 
and* others began to ask : 

*' Why is the work on the dome suspended?' 



"They demanded a recontinuance of the work, and had an 
order made out transferring the work upon the Capitol exten- 
sion from the War to the Interior Department. This was done 
to lift out of Cameron's hands the matter of the dome. 

" I went to the Secretary of the Interior and demanded my 
additional cent a pound. It was paid. I demanded also the fif- 
teen thousand dollars which, under the first arrangement, was 
withheld from my control to-insure the finishing of the dome. 
This was paid over. Then I went to work again." 

" On what principle is that dome set up, Mr. Fowler ?'" 

" On this principle : there is a skeleton series of ribs within : 
they extrude supports for the outer dome : the figure on 'the 
top, the government guaranteed to furnish, as it afterwards did, 
from Clark Mill's designs and castings. The scales on the 
dome are bolted together. There "is no structure in the world 
more enduring than that dome. You may call it eternal, if 
you like. It weighs over 5,000 tons. That is, you tell me, 
only one-ninth the weight of the Victoria tower, on the Parlia- 
ment buildings, in London. Why, sir, the Rocky Mountains 
will budge as quickly as that structure. There are some things 
about it which I don't like, but the Government Superintendent 
is absolute. For example, the first coat of paint should have 
been different. I protested. 'Put it on white,' said the chief. 
Consequently the dome eats up paint by the ton every year, 
because there is not a good color for a base." 

" Does not the dome leak, sir, by reason of the metal plates 
expanding and contracting ? Is it not possible that by the per- 
petual working to and fro of the plates, rust, fractured rivets 
and final collapse will take ?" . 

" Why, the whole dome is of one metal : it expands and con- 
tracts like the folding and unfolding of a lily, all moving 
together. An atmospheric change that will move one piece 
moves all — scale and bolt. Rust will happen, but to avoid this 
the building must be kept water-tight and well painted. It is 
not by mechanical changes that public works are affected, but by 
sudden and unnecessary political changes. For example : I got 


a judgment against the Government in the Court of Claims last 
week for twenty-six thousand dollars. They made a contract 
with me? to put up the wings of the Library, as I had already 
finished and delivered the main part of it. The Secretary of 
the Interior was suddenly changed, and he abolished my con- 
tract whimsically. Therefore, I bring suit, and his little whim 
costs the people twenty-six thousand dollars, besides putting me 
out of pocket even at that. See, also, the effect of a change 
of superintendents, 'which I have already referred to. I have 
a claim of sixty-odd thousand dollars for the increased cost and 
delay incurred by me through the substitution of Meigs for 
Franklin. Had they let me go on by the terms of my contract, 
I should have had the work done by 1861. They stopped me 
arbitrarily ; the war came on ; iron went up some hundred per 
cent ; the river was lined with rebel batteries ; freights went 
up 400 per cent ; the price of labor went up almost as badly. 
A new man's whim will cost sixty thousand dollars, perhaps, 
to the people ; if not, it will come out of my pocket. 

" I tell you, sir," said, the dome-builder, encouraged in his 
theme, " whim, freak, change, are responsible for a good deal 
of folly and more extravagance here. 

" Let me show you how they got a dome in the first place ; 
for that is an example : 

" Mr. Walter, the architect, prepared the plans for a complete 
extension of the Capitol — new wings, new dome, and a new 
marble front for the middle or freestone building, which was 
the old Capitol ; and, as he knew very well that Congress would 
never vote this money in the most economical way, — that is, in 
bulk, or by fixed yearly parcels — he first submitted the wings. 

" Next, as Congress was about adjourning at the end of a 
session, and they were all very merry at night — ladies on the 
floor, everything lively, the dome, splendidly painted, was pre- 
sented in a picture and adopted at once." 



The present chapter will deal in a discursive way with 
some, of the evils in general legislation. 

With every Congressman comes a little knot of retainers, 
often to his own disgust ; for he has used them and finished,, 
and now they are quick that he shall fulfil his promises. 
Promises are ruin-seeds. Nine-tenths of the crime of the 
state is tied to rash and often needless promises. " Mr. 
Godtalk," says Stirrup the saddler, " I admire your course, 
sir, and want to see you re-elected." 

" Stirrup," says Godtalk, " why don't you get the post- 
office ? It will be a nice little addition to your income, take 
no time from your trade, and be an honor amongst your 

" Mr. Godtalk, I never aspired to office, sir." 

" Tut ! tut ! Stirrup ; it's easy as asking. If I'm elected 
I'll work for you ! " 

Behold ! the first " uneasy and interested seed is planted in 
the good citizen. ^Ie becomes henceforward a corrupted man, 
the " bore " of his Representative, another hanger-on around 
the Capitol. This loose and almost always needless tendering 
of promises is the mistake of the politician, and the corruption 
of the constituent alike. Every promise, loosely made and 
broken to the hope, returns to plague giver and receiver. We 
have been promising the darkeys in the South — some of us — a 



mule and a forty-acre farm. Let us look out that the mule 
doesn't kick us dead, and the forty-acre farm be our political 
cemetery. Promise nothing out of the contract of principles. 
Come to Washington with free hands, and the highway to 
honor, if it has enemies before, will have no assassins behind ' 
No sooner had the members of Congress begun to arrive, than 
the poor promise-bearers followed after. They looked mean, 
as does every man with an immortal soul, who waits for a favor 
that he does not deserve. The saddler's fingers were nervous. 
The citizen's direct look of searchingness, and yet confidence, 
had a sycophantish, sidewise smile in the bottom of it. The 
man was clinging by his eyelids to a politician's word of 
honor, and God help the hold on that support ! The constit- 
uent had already begun to feel revengeful, for his suspicious 
fears, born of his conscious meanness, had begun to reproach 
his Representative. Both were disgusted. The politician had 
dishonored the saddler's hearth with a foolish promise, and 
made a family malcontent, and traitors to obedient, cheerful 

There is no time when one sees these personal errors so 
vividly in their effect upon the State, as at the opening of 
Congress. The power of the State, as an attraction and an 
evil, when it enters into competition with the private patrons 
of the people, is at this time very manifest. You live, per- 
haps, down in Egypt, or on the Illinois Central Road, and get 
the paper afar .off, and in your heart you honor the State. 
The news, as it comes from Washington, is vague and great 
to you. The names of senators are resonant names, which 
you hold in excellent respect. The Government is the mighty 
protector of you and yours, a sworded .benefactor, a most 
impartial father, and yet almost your son. 

When this Government, by one of its officers — legislator or 
what not — comes down from its misty remoteness of sun and 
thunder cloud, like Jupiter to Danae, and singles one of you 
out for its caresses, tho pure worship you have paid it turns to 
personal lust and jealousy. Therefore, the fewer possessions 


that the Government holds, the better for it and you. With 
its clear, attenuated brow and naked buckler, it is our common 
champion ; but with armsfull of public lands, bon-bons of 
railway subsidies, Christmas gifts of Indian contracts and 
sinecures, and the whim and capacity to make invidious 
favoritisms, Government entering the market place is the 
wickedest debaucher of the people. 

A man came to me recently. " You know a good many 
people in Congress," he said ; " I've got a little business I 
want to see you about after awhile. I'm here in behalf of the 
Snuffbox tribe of Indians ! " 

" What do the Snuffboxes want ? " 

" Oh ! they're despret anxious to get that treaty o' theirh 
fixed ; want to sell their land, you know, being hard-up and 
desirous of agoing South. It's all just and fair as the Golding 
Rule.. This yer Osage expozay spiled the treaty of the Snuff- 
boxes. But, as I said before, ourn is clar and just as the 
Golding Rule." 

Not being a street preacher, I replied only in generalities 
to this gentleman ; but in this correspondence may make it 
plain to 3 r ou that by the very situation of the Government we 
have been unjust to the Snuffbox Indians and this corrupt 
lobbyist together. This was evidently an intention to cozen 
the Snuffboxes out of three or four millions of *rich acres ; but 
why was this man, apparently a good citizen (he had been a 
soldier) in the job ? 

Because Government was in the market as patron and 
employer. The citizen found a short cut to wealth by making 
a treaty, and quitted his honest livelihood to come to Wash- 
ington and make marketable the plausibilities of Congressmen. 
Here he saw a way to spend a year of dishonorable feeling, 
" smelling," and huckstering for the sake of a lifetime of 
wealth. We must make an honest man of him by putting 
Governments out of the market, abolishing the Indian title in 
lands, and setting the entire government real estate on an 
equal footing, so that you, John Smith, Tom Walker, and the 


devil may be made equal as purchasers, so far as nature finds 

The mere value of a residence here is esteemed as so much 
money-right, because you may board with a Senator, lend a 
horse to a Sergeant-at-Arms, or know a doorkeeper well, and 
this involves the possible right to demand a favor of the Fede- 
ral State. 

" Do you want five thousand dollars down in a check ?" said 
a man to another once in my hearing. " Here it is. I want 
somebody in the Senate to propose to take up the bill making 
seven Judge Advocates. I don't want you to see it pass, 
because there are seven of us who have fixed all that. It's 
bound to pass ! We only want some one Senator to lift it up. 
Whom do you know?" 

This was in the last hours of the session. Suppose you lived 
here, and had entertained Senator Enoch, of Hindoocush, with 
a soft crab lunch ; what more easy than to slip up to the" door- 
keeper, say, " Take this card to Enoch," see Enoch come 
benevolent through the door, say " Senator, my nephew depends 
on this bill being raised ; vote as you please, only move to lift 
it ; did you enjoy those crabs ?" And, presto, there is $5,000 
down merely for knowing one man. 

So large is the power of the Federal Congress becoming, 
that to be a doorkeeper, messenger, even a page, is to possess 
a chance to obtain offices, privileges, and appropriations. I 
used to see a dull-eyed man in one of the galleries — a door- 
keeper. One day there was a huge overthrow of officials, and 
into a post of great trust this doorkeeper walked. From being 
a servant, he became an officer of Congress, and in his present 
place knows matters so valuable, that the regular Secretary of 
the Senate cannot know them. The choice may have been a 
superb one, but I instance it only to show the advantage of 
having the right of acquaintanceship with Congress. Clerk- 
ships in the House and Senate, are worth fortunes to some 
people. Here in the Clerkship of Claims, Mr. Corbin grew 
wealthy, and yet he never had a vote ; but the knowledge of 


what was going on, and the right to salute honorable members 
familiarly, and to say a good familiar word for some one's 
claim — this was his royal road. 

Few persons are aware how Congress conducts business, and 
one might go to the chambers and read the Grlobe every day for 
two years, without growing a great deal wiser. Yet it is by 
the defects of the organization of Congress that thievery thrives 
— defects inseparable from all human contrivances. 

The commercial republic whose soul and courage be not in 
sentiment, but in necessity, is open to this criticism, that, while 
it has money to spend to keep the empire together, it does not 
like to risk its blood for the same purpose. 

A Mr. Shannon, of California, who was a member of Congress 
during the war, said to me the other day : 

" This Congress, and every other that I have seen, is cursed 
by demagogues. I can understand a scoundrel, and meet him ; 
but a demagogue is an insidious being, who works with treach- 
ery upon the instability of periods and localities, and defeats 
good legislation, by making somewhere a prejudice. During 
the war, when we had been defeated on the Rappahannock, and 
everything was going to pieces, Congress sat here in session, 
debating how to make a new army. It was proposed, in this 
emergency, to have a conscription, and make every man, if 
necessary, come out to defend his country ; but when this bill 
passed, what did that demagoguing Congress do, though it sat 
within a day's march of the enemy ? Why, they *set about 
passing a commutation bill, which was, in fact, nothing but a 
bill to raise revenue. The United States had a right to every 
man in it to go to the front if he was needed and take his chances, 
but that miserable set of demagogues sat there wrangling as to 
whether the draft policy could not be evaded by the payment of 
some money." 

In this you can see how the commercial republic prefers to 
sacrifice but one thing, and that is cash. In peace it will buy 
justice, and in war it prefers to buy the nation back, rather than 
to fight for it. Here is one of the greatest evils at the Capital, 


not that corrupt legislators hot from the stews ot caucus, will 
take money for their vote, but that commercial men of high 
gharacter, will pay the money in order to save time. When a 
set*of interests in New York want a bill essential to their sol- 
vency ? —a bill perfectly proper in itself to pass Congress, they 
employ a lawyer and send him on here, with authority to draw 
money it it be needful ; and'he generally gets but one instruc- 
tion, and that is to cany the bill, and, " if these fellows begin 
to tinker about it, just pay them." It is the country people of 
the United States who are still its mainstay — the large class 
who have not been debuached by great profits, and whose devo- 
tion to the State is as strong as the family tie itself. If we can 
stop demagoguing among the poor people, and corruption 
amongst the enterprising, we shall have solved the main prob- 
lem ; and our reserve forces, which are rapidly gaining strength, 
— such as intelligence amongst the masses, the dissipation of 
old illusions — such as the assumption that the plundering of the 
many is business — and the drafting of good men into politics 
by a sort of social enforcement — these are our reliances to save 
the State. 

Here, before me, as I write, is the Captain's chart, the 
manual for the Speaker of the House of Representatives. It 
consists of 500 odd pages, and superbly bound, and is a piece 
of government work, pronounced by Colfax to be the best 
parliamentary manual in the English language. 

The contents of this book are : 1. The Constitution, and 
amendments, of the United States — so well indexed that the 
Speaker can catch any phrase of it in a couple of winks. 2. 
Thomas Jefferson's manual of parliamentary practice, which, 
by law of 1837, governs " in all applicable cases." 3. The 
standing rules and orders of business in the House of Repre- 
sentatives, 161 in number. 4. Joint rules and orders of the 
house, 22 in number. 5. Standing rules, in the Senate, 53 in 
number. 6. The whole of the foregoing digested or made 
compendious and perspicuous by John M. Barclay, Journal 
Clerk, of the House of Representatives. The digest alone, 


making 212 large pages. Herein you have the traditional and 
self-imposed laws of the National Legislature in the popular 
branch, and he who shall study this book well, can be advised 
of the most economical, expeditious, and impartial way of 
carrying on the federal legislation of the Republic. A very 
few members, however, have studied the manual: some have 
never looked into ; and a large proportion of those who know 
it best, have mastered it for the purpose of taking advantage of it. 

Young men and boys have a good deal to do with legislation. 

Willie Todd, Speaker Colfax's messenger. Of him I took 
occasion to inquire into the person and history of Thaddy Mor- 
ris, who had been page to Speaker Pennington in 1859, and 
virtual Speaker of the House of Representatives. Mr. Pen- 
nington was a delightful old gentleman, ignorant of parliamen- 
tary practice, and he was elected by a compromise between the 
adherents of Sherman and Marshall, of Kentucky. Placed in 
his embarrassing chair, he found the great dog-pit of the House 
barking, like Cerberus, under him, and he took every ruling, 
point, and suggestion from Thaddeus, most gratefully. 

Once, it is related, when young Morris had prepared every- 
thing snugly for Pennington, outlined the order of business, 
prompted him completely, and left the course " straight as the 
crow flies," so that a wayfaring man, though a fool, need not go 
astray, he said to the Speaker : " Now, go on." 

" Now, go on ! " cried Pennington,- promptly, to the House ; 
at which there was huge laughter. 

It was an inspiring thing to see that delicate boy, secreted 
in the pinnacle o°f the nation, like Paul Revere 's friend in the 
old South Church spire, supplying knowledge to the gray- 
beard who had the honor without the skill of governing. 
There is many a boy, unseen, at the elbows of statesmen — 
little fellows of downy chins — whose heads are as long as a 
sum at compound interest. 

This is the Senate-house, a room all gold and buff, a belt of 
buff gallery running round it ; through the gold of the roof 
twenty-one great enameled windows giving light. The floor 
hereof is a soft red English carpet ; deep golden cornices sur- 


round the hall ; a blue-faced clock without a sound goes on 
with time remorselessly. So blackly the people fill all these 
galleries that it is but here and there a sunbeam falls upon a 
face, making it warm yellow ; the far-ceiling corners of this 
hall are full of darkness ; dark also are the deep-gilt ornament- 
ations in the edge of the ceiling ; upon the floor, however, 
where the chief actors stand, it is clear as open day. 

The scenes witnessed in the night sessions are a good deal 
like the physical manifestations to which you are used in old 
cross-road churches at what is called " revival time." People 
speaking against time to exhausted auditors, each auditor, 
however, getting up steam for his particular turn at exhorta- 
tion or prayer. The Speaker, whose attention and nervous 
readiness must be kept up to a high pitch, sits far up in his 
seat, behind the marble desks of the clerks, gavel in hand, 
like a man on a wagon-box, keeping in rein two hundred 
horses at once, and these horses — " fractious," or poorly 
broken — duck, break up, rear, neigh, or pull the wrong way, 
or lazily, while his gavel is flourished like a whip-handle 
without a lash. The disposition to draw blood, and the inca- 
pacity to do it, are very clearly expressed in his face, and 
therefore he brings the House to by a loud " Whoa ! " Then 
he straightens them up with a cautious " Peddy — peddy — 
whoa ! G'lang now ! " Directly some stallion bounces off 
into a ditch, and the Speaker's " Gee, there, Mike ! " or 
" Haw ! haw ! Tommy ! " with dreadful indications of the 
broken whip-handle, coerce the team into some degree of good 

In the cloak-room, some groups of Congressmen are smoking. 
Here and there on the floor of the House you see some one 
surreptitiously pulling at his cigar. Every lobbyist, who by 
hook or crook can get upon the floor, is traveling about 
between seats and sofas, with a sly, sidewise look, an express- 
train tongue, and a vigorous movement of his hand, gesturing 
on his private interest. Here is a member helping out some 
such lobbyist, introducing him round, pulling a group of folks 


into the wash-room or side-lobby, all talking, hearing, suggest- 
ing, flying round like folks wrought up to the verge of despair. 
In the open space before the Speaker a score of anxious people 
assemble, ready to seize the Speaker's eye and gouge some 
proposition through it. Now vindictiveness is most alert to 
beat some hated rival or adverse interest in the dying hours 
of the session, as it has 'succeeded so well in doing during the 
bulk of the season. You can make intense studies wherever 
you look, as ot two such hating and hated enemies watching 
each other. Here is Bellerophon, the member from Pasca- 
goula, resolved to get. his friend Shiftless, of the contested 
seat, through in the nick of time, for Shiftless has scarcely 
money enough to embark on the train for his home, and he 
hopes, by a decisive vote, to save all his back pay, settle his 
board bills, and have some spending money. 

Bellerophon is on the floor, in the area, working his faith- 
fullest. He cries, " Mr. Speaker," in and out of time, feels 
his skin abraded by repeated failures, and the color, pale or 
red, rises alternately to his cheeks, while poor Shiftless stands 
off in pleading silence, saying short pieces of prayer between 
his need and his hypocrisy, like a man in a steamboat when 
there is inevitably to be a scuttling. Some distance off, Strike, 
the unappeasable enemy of Shiftless, lurks, with the light of 
revenge in his eyeball, and the phrase "I object!" upon his 
tongue, balanced like a man's revolver at full-cock. So they 
fignt it out. So they stand arrayed — the old immemorial 
history ol friendship, enmity, and hero, celebrated since litera- 
ture could venture to portray anything. The morning hours 
advance ; nature gives out, and all doze or sleep but these 
three, and many similar trios like them. At last even interest 
subsides, and he whose rights are being guarded, feels himself 
satiety, listlessness, inattention. He sleeps at his desk, while 
vigilant Friendship, keeping guard in the area with weary 
legs, cries steadily in all the pauses : 

" Mr. Speaker, I believe I have the floor ! " 

" Mr. Speaker, you recognized me, I am sure,, sir ! " 


Still Malice, with unsmoothable eyes, is ready with his 
cocked revolver, saying ever : 

" I object ! " 

Even Friendship wearies in the end, and stopping in some 
empty perch to rest, feels the leaden weights upon its eyeballs, 
drive them slowly down. But when the interested one and 
Ins champion are quite overcome, still tireless and remorseless 
the Enemy looks out, bright and prepared, with the uncom- 
promising — " I object ! " 

Knowing, as I did, the undertone of motive at the Capitol, 
I watched the last hours of the session on a Saturday with 
something of the sentiment of Lord Macaulay when he contem- 
plated the Tower of London : 

" They are associated with whatever is darkest in human 
nature and in human destiny, with the savage triumph of 
implacable enemies, with the inconstancy, the ingratitude, the 
cowardice of friends, with all the miseries of fallen greatness 
and blighted fame." 

The same must be said of the latter days of the Senate, in 
executive session here, when enemies fall afoul of each other 
and slaughter each other's hopes of place between- the decisive 
instants of triumph. It is the old, old story of Raleigh, 
Essex, and Sidney. 



The Cheerful Patriot arrived in Washington on a bright morn- 
ing of 1868, that he seemed to have brought with him. His 
face was extremely amiable. Stepping from the depot, he 
looked round about him benignantly, evidently on the eve of 
bowing to anybody who would give him a chance. 

" How did you enjoy your ride from the Western Reserve ?" 
said I. 

" My dear boy ! it surpassed all that I had read of our pro- 
gress. We have truly a wonderful country. Is that Willard's 
over yonder ?" 

He pointed with his stick to the yellow- gable of Dyer's Hotel, 
where some brakemen and conductors were basking. 

" No ! Willard's is as big as forty of that !" 

" Bless my soul ! The progress of the people is wonderful. 
Did I ever tell you that story of the first hotel they built in 
Ashtabuley ? Well, lead me along ; I'll tell you all about it." 

1 enjoyed the Cheerful Patriot's anecdote very much, though 
I did not hear a word of it. He wore an ancient white hat, 
and a black cloth suit. Neither moustache nor bearded chin 
had he, but genuine whiskers of a healthy gray. 

" Is that the City Hall ?" he said. " Why, it's big enough 
for Solomon's Temple. The monument there looks like one of 
the seven candlesticks. Mr. Lincoln was a noble man ! That 
Mr. Booth was truly a wild young person. But, then, we 
musn't judge each other." 

"Here, Mr. Chase lives." 

" Dear me ! I voted for him way back in the fifties. I was 
never sorry for it. If it wishes him no harm, I am glad that 



he lost the nomination this time, for I should hate to have voted 
against him. In pint of fact," said the Cheerful Patriot, " I 
should like to have two votes : one of 'em I would give on 
election day, the other I would give after election, to soften the 
disappointment of the losing man. I'd give Mr. Seymour a 
vote a few days after this election — say a hundred years or two !" 

To the Patent Office the Cheerful Patriot put on his specta- 
cles and said that it was vast, even considering the number of 
patent? medicines we had. The General Post-Office, he said 
with all reverence, was the Thirteenth Apostle. 

" In my day," he alleged, " I sent a valentine to my wife, 
that was afterward, and by the lightning mail coach, she 
received it the following Fourth of July. Perhaps she wouldn't 
have had any more pleasure had it come earlier. There's com- 
pensation for all things." 

At Willard's I apologized to the Cheerful Patriot, that there 
was no elevator. He said to Mr. Chadwick that an elevator 
might be a curiosity, but .the grandeur of the establishment 
made its loss unnoticeable to any sturdy pair of legs. He was 
given a closet room on the fifth floor, for the clerk said, sotto 
voce, that he'd be derned if any man had any right to be so 
well satisfied at Willard's. 

Said the clerk : " Nobody wan't ever quite satisfied here, and 
the Cheerful Patriot shan't be no exception !" 

Said I to the Cheerful Patriot: " They allege in all the Wash- 
ington hotels that it's better to keep a bad hotel than a good 
one. All being equally ill-kept, there is no choice, and nobody 
ever changes from one to the other, because it will be to dis- 
cover different evils from those we are used to." 

" My dear boy," replied the C. P., " all this is a vast improve- 
ment upon Washington, as I knew it forty years ago. Then 
we came by stage from Baltimore, paying three dollars hard 
cash, where we ride now in an hour or more, for twelve York 
shillings currency. The hotels were provincial, like those of 
all the country. The beef was all taken apparently from one 
inexhaustible ox, and the bread was made of corn meal, on all 


but rare occasions. The servants were slaves and slow; the 
cooking utensils admitted of little haste ; there were few facili- 
ties for expediting the food to the table. Go back to the con- 
trivances of that time, from this gilded dining room to the white- 
washed walls, from smoking rolls to yellow pone, from free 
waiters to slaves ! Be compensated in knowing that if this 
landlord does not do as well as he might, he at any rate pays 
his servants wages." 

I look around me and I think I " see politer manners, less 
deference perhaps, or less assumption, but more equal claims, 
more equally accorded. The faces of the people show better 
digestion, better food, less coarseness that used to pass for 

" They drink, Cheerful Patriot ! There is a great marble 
bar here ; across the way is a nest of hungry gamblers, who 
watch the stranger and the dignitary, alike." 

" These evils are sad," said the Cheerful Patriot, " but we 
\?ere not rid of them in our days. Then the grosser liquors 
were set upon the private tables, and men talked in the heat of 
them. We elected Presidents by hard cider. Apple brandy, 
the parent of drunkenness, affected the head of the wisest. 
Whiskey was as patent, but the drink of Statesmen was raw 
brandy, a combative and violent liquor, that was the challenger 
and slayer in one-half the cases on the field at Bladensburg. 
Gambling is a low and concealed craft, to-day. It used to be 
part of hospitality here, and host plundered guest, and guest 
felt the injury. Then, indeed, women shared in it, taking cue 
from court-life abroad, and sO aggravated their weaknesses with 
avarice and despair. My dear boy ! many of us old men say 
better things of those days than we know, because they were 
our youth. Believe Cheerful Patriot when he tells you, that 
the. new days are the best for the new men !" 

" But the chaste Commandment is broken here, among the 
oftenest. Between the Avenue and the Smithsonian, on much 
of the ' Island,' in all localities, base and high, there are vile 
places shut up from daylight. It is not doubted that in some 
of the departments, stained women hide," 


" Sadder! sadder still !''.' said the Cheerful Patriot," but even 
to this sorrow there is hope ! I remember in the days of slavery, 
that the planter came to Congress with his slave concubine and 
there was no scandal, because there was no law. The husband 
and father, Hamilton, closest friend of Washington, confessed 
that he had become a woman's victim to the extent of embar- 
rassing his public accounts. Of Jefferson some men spoke no- 
better ; the times were lax ; Virginia made the sentiment ; New 
England made only the religion. A government clerk entrap- 
ped into a duel the brother of one he made a castaway, and the 
loss of his office was his only punishment. A woman's disputed 
fame turned out a cabinet. For Vice-President we had no bet- 
ter than Aaron Burr, whose path was strewn with young vic- 
tims. In those days, as now, I was a Cheerful Patriot, seeing 
how more excellent were pur public morals than those of any 
court in Christendom. I see woman still erring and man 
depraved, but the Capital is better. With these sad social ques- 
tions even legislation is busy. Oh, no, my dear boy : in this 
pint there is no improvement !" 

Here the Cheerful Patriot shook hands with the porter who 
handed him his hat, and asked if he could see the President's 

" Bless my soul !" he said, " is that the United States' Treas- 
ury ? It's an apocalypse in granite ! Monoliths, are they, the 
pillars ? They're strong for one stone, sure. This is a great 
country. The Treasury building is our Sans souci. Frederick 
the Great built his palace of that name to show the people how 
much money he had after the war. We build this to show how 
much debt we have. It indicates it splendidly, and the White 
House is truly the Palace Beautiful. I am glad to see the Pres- 
ident with a good roof over his head ! Takes ten thousand dol- 
lars a year to repair it ! Well, that's not three per cent of the 
cost. See how figures come down when they are explained ! 
You think the city sprawling, half built over, never to be fin- 
ished ? Why, it has arisen like a Phoenix since my last visit. 
They were twenty-five years buildingafche old Capitol ; the new 


wings were finished in a very few. There's not a big church 
in Europe that three generations of men didn't work upon. If 
we expect to finish this nation, Capital and all, in eighty years, 
we shall leave nothing for our own boys to do. How much of 
a town was Paris eighty years after they begun it ? The storks 
flew over Rome for the first century, unable to see it. The 
Washington monument is abandoned ! Yes ! but he'll grow in 
fame with every posterity. If we've done our work well, and 
it will only stand, somebody will come up to resume and finish 
it! " 

Here we reach the Yan Ness Mausoleum on H street. 

" See this !" I said, " this cool old nook of private sepulture. 
Observe its venerable form and high grass that grows around 
it. Within sleeps one of the former mayors of this city, Gen- 
eral Yan Ness. He was a man of the old time ; people speak 
reverently of him yet. Our fussy Wallachs and money-grub- 
bing Bowens are very different !" 

" Be just to the living as well as the dead," said the Cheer- 
ful Patriot ; " all memories mellow by age. I knew General 
Yan Ness well. He was a New York city politician and came 
here as a Congressman when the city was a slough, the Capitol 
a scaffold, and the White House an ague-bed. The members 
fled to Georgetown to find board and lodging. They went in 
hacks or on horseback across the muddy landscape to sit in the 
unfinished Capitol, their sessions beguiled by the thud of trowel 
and hammer. At night they pined for company, and for want 
of it they drank, gambled, and did worse. Cock-fighting was 
common among the most eminent. It was an amusement of 
Washington itself. Prize-fighting of the spontaneous, rough- 
and-tumble sort, accompanied with the gouging out of eyes and 
the biting off of ears, was frequent ; men were executed and 
statesmen looked on at the foot of Capitol Hill. At that time 
an ignorant, obstinate, canny Scotch farmer named Davy Burns 
lived in a farmhouse down by the fogs of the river. The loca- 
tion of the Capital City upon his grounds made him rich. To 
his crude shanty, young Congressmen pressed at night courting 


for the heiress, and Van Ness, having the New York " dash," 
carried off Miss Marcia Burns. In your time this would be 
called a shoddy-wedding, turf-hunting, what-not. Shoddy and 
silk wear the same hue fifty years off. The Scotch girl made a 
good wife ; the politician settled on his lands and rose to be 
mayor. One of his wife's cousins died in the poor-house, neg- 
lected. Now the family is extinct and the heiress to half the 
site of Washington lies under this fantastic mausoleum. If 
you had seen, as I have, the wild partisanship of General Van 
Ness for General Jackson, you would have ascertained that the 
race of politicians had somewhat improved. Justice to them 
all, my dear boy, good in their day, but the breed is bettering !" 

" Cheerful Patriot !" I said, " see the despicable contest 
between the co-ordinate departments of our government ! Re- 
view the Impeachment Trial ! Consider that with the Presi- 
dent of the United States one third of the public officers have 
broken social intercourse ! Had you such discourtesy in old 

The Cheerful Patriot looked a little pained and said that I 
was looking too closely into the coal-hole of the ship. " You 
see the firemen and the sailors fighting," he said, " and lose 
heart in the steamer ! Come on deck among the people. Why, 
my dear boy, I have seen the Vice-President of the United 
States preside over the Senate with the blood of the Secretary 
of the Treasury on his hands ! I have seen the Vice-President, 
though of the same party, upon no terms of communication 
with the President. Andrew Jackson sat in Congress and 
refused to vote the thanks of that body to President Washing- 
ton. Jefferson, in danger of being cheated out of the chief 
magistracy by Burr, prepared the Governors of two states to 
march with militia upon Washington. Jackson's retainers 
waylaid Congressmen as they quitted their chamber and left 
them for dead. The passions of individuals break out, but pat- 
riotism goes on." 

" ! too Cheerful Patriot ! " I said again, " there are two 
recent crimes new to our country and novel to your experience : 
Assassination ! Rebellion ! " 


The Cheerful Patriot bent his white hat, and walked a long 
way, saying nothing. 

" The great God has crooked ways for all great races," he 
said, " our only statesman whom murder ever aimed at was the 
best, and therefore the infamy of his taking off will find no 
future aspirants. In the shudder of all human kind the last 
of our braves perished with the first. 

And rebellion was only an essential passage in the life of 
slavery, the ante-climax, where the terror is rolled up against 
the State to make the great finale glad with freedom. Lincoln 
was murdered when the first slave came ! No, my dear boy ! 
let us be cheerful patriots! The death of Lincoln lay back in 
the decrees of the insatiable demon of Slavery. What hope 
is there not for the land that could tear a tumor like this from 
its loins and live ! Even for the rebel South there is hope. As 
Cheerful Patriots we must not cease to hope for the most re- 
morseless. Firm to be merciful, distributing sympathy between 
our wayward elder brother and the new-born heir of freedom 
he has scourged, let us go forward cheerfully, proud of the 
present, confident of the future." 

The Cheerful Patriot ascended the dome of the Capitol, won- 
dering at every step, declaiming of the great country, and as 
he burst upon the panorama from the upper cupola, he shut his 
eyes with pious joy : " Move the Capitol ! " he said, " it won't be 
the Cheerful Patriots that will do it these hundred years. If 
Richmond can outlive defeat and Washington expire with vic- 
tory, how much will glory be quoted at by the square foot ? 
My dear boy," he said, "this site is fine as Rome. It has 
already outlived almost as many perils. It has sheltered more 
virtuous rulers. It will ever be visited reverently whether we 
depopulate it or not. Looking down upon it as do we, follow- 
ing the solemn circle of those far bastioned hills, exploring the 
grey highway of its forked river, seeing it momentarily expand 
and flourish, and feeling the memories that possess it as well 
as the commemorations to come, what American will not ht 
a grave and also a Cheerful Patriot. 



To talk with a man 89 years ot age, who has passed all his 
life on one spot, and has a good memory for all the incidents 
respecting it, is in itself instructive. If your acquaintance 
should chance to have passed all his life on the site of the 
Capital City, and is able to recollect distinctly events between 
1797 and 1873, you will converse with him with perhaps great- 
er satisfaction than with the oldest denizen of any other town 
in America, because his experience will span the entire person- 
al life of the nation. 

There are in Washington several old men who recollect Gen. 
Washington. One of them is Noble Hurdle, of Georgetown, 
living at No. 176 High street, who is said to be 96 years old, 
and to have a grand-child past 40. Another, Christian Hines, 
I went to see a few days ago, who was 89 years of age, and was 
an object of curiosity for relic-hunters and people who wish to 
ask questions on old sites and points of interest. At the age 
of 82, he published at his own expense, a pamphlet of 96 pages, 
entitled " Early Recollections of Washington City ; " but he 
was in very straitened circumstances, and the little book was 
not remunerative, so that much which he might have commit- 
ted to print was allowed to go to waste. He had a clear ap- 
prehension, however, that, in his remarkable old age and keen 
memory, Providence had left him some dignity worth living for, 
in being of use to the future historians of the city. This con- 
sciousness lightened up his face, and seemed to give increased 
tenacity to his memory, for he would sometimes make nights 
of reminiscence, impelled by the strong desire of giving help 



to literary folks, by which results were obtained as satisfactory 
to himself as to his hearers. 

A visit. One blustering Sunday I sought the old man's ten- 
ement, on Twentieth street, between H street and Pennsylva- 
nia avenue. It was the last piece of property which he retained 
out of a large portion ol the block which had belonged to his 
family, and here he had attended to an old furniture and junk- 
store as long as he was able to get about, but had finally been 
driven by rheumatism and increasing infirmities to the upper- 
story, where he resided in a lonely way with his neice, who was 
very deaf, and who shared the solitude and gave him some 
little help. The lower portion of the store was filled with 
everything quaint under the sun, and the loft where the old 
man lived consisted of three rooms without carpets or plaster, 
two of which were forward of a partition which divided the 
loft crosswise, and in one of these forward rooms Mr. Hines 
slept, and in the other had his frugal meal cooked. He lived 
almost wholly upon his pension of a few dollars a quarter, 
received from the Government for his services in the War of 
1812, which he entered as a private, and became a Lieutenant 
at the time of the Battle of Bladensburg, in which he was 
engaged. In the same company appeared the names of the 
Bealls, Millers, Milburns, Shepherds, Goldsboroughs, and 
many other families well known in Washington. 

Christian Hines was a fine-looking old man, and, old as he 
was, there was another brother, aged 93, resident in Washing- 
ton, who, he said, was in much better health and memory than 
himself. This brother lived on Eleventh street near S. There 
were thirteen children in the family, whose common father had 
been an emigrant from Germany to Pennsylvania, and, by his 
partial knowledge of the English language, was recommended 
to an emigrant Captain as a proper person to procure a vessel 
load of people to come out of Maryland. With these emigrants, 
the elder Hines settled in Montgomery County, Md., about 
thirty years before the Revolution. He was, therefore, in 
Montgomery County when Braddock's army marched through 
it from Georgetown to Frederick. Christian Hines was brought 
up in Georgetown,, which he describes as " pretty much of a 


mud-hole" before the Capitol was built on the other side of 
Rock Creek. 

His first recollection is that of going to see the President's 
House, which was then just rising above the basement story. 
He recollects that some cakes were bought for the children at 
a bake-house kept in a small frame building, which relied for ' 
custom upon the laborers who were building the White House. ' 

At fourteen years of age he was put in a clothing store, 
which a Georgetown merchant established at Greenleaf's 
Point, and of this episode he gives a very complete account. 
He passed but one house from Georgetown and the President's, 
except two well-known blocks called the Six and Seven Build- 
ings. The road led by F street to Eleventh, and thence across 
to the Island. There was not a single house on the Avenue 
from the President's to the Capitol. Many acres of elegant 
forest trees bordered the Avenue, on what is now the prome- 
nade side. An insecure crossway crossed Tiber Creek, with 
berries growing in the marsh close to the bridge ; and the old 
man remembered the sweetness of those berries more than 
any of the prospects which might have been supposed to touch 
his imagination in the Government town. Across the bridge 
he plunged into the woods, and then, emerging, he saw that 
a vast plain of old fields extended to the river, with a few of 
the fruit trees of old farms standing up at places in it ; and 
there were no houses in all the view, except some speculative 
edifices called the " Twenty Buildings," an old mansion, and 
some farmers' shanties, already condemned. 

Settling- the town. The store being a failure, young Hines 
went to school, next door to the house of the Rev. Stephen 
Balch, in Georgetown, until 1798. At this time, business got 
to be relatively brisk in Washington, and many strangers 
moved in. Some settled at the Navy Yard, a few about the 
Capitol, but the most about the Treasury Office, and along F 
street, beyond the Treasury, as far as St. Patrick's Church. 
The 'F street neighborhood got the most settlers, and to anti- 
cipate the removal of the Government from Philadelphia, Mr r 


Hines' father, and his intimate friends in Georgetown, held a 
meeting ' and selected a spot for their future residences in 
Washington. They then removed from their large two-story 
log-house and frame attachment, and squatted near the 
Observatory. They had difficulties in getting water, as there 
were but few pumps. A part of the family began to work 
cutting timber in the white-oak slashes on the higher grounds 
of Washington, to build the Navy Yard wharf. The roads 
were wretched, and the boys had to haul the chips from the 
spot where the timber was cut to their distant house. Mr. 
Hines remembers with perfect distinctness the vessels dis- 
charging furniture, &c, for the Government edifices, at Lear's 
wharf on Tiber Greek ; and carts were so scarce that his 
father's was impressed to remove boxes of books, papers, &c. 
He remembers that many of the boxes were marked " Joseph 
Nourse, Register." At this time, Mr. Hines remembers the 
north wing of the Capitol just rising out of the ground, and 
the President's House half a story high, and the only place 
between, with anything like the appearance of a village, was 
middle F street. 

Where the General Post Office stands, there' were a few 
laborers' shanties huddled around a great hulk of a hotel, 
called Bloclgett's. There was no street opened across the 
city. Where Washington's statue now stands, at " The 
Circle," was the place for cock-fights and scrub races, where 
the laborers working on the public buildings used to have 
shillelah fights with the idlers of Georgetown. At the election 
between Jefferson and Adams, held at Suter's Tavern, George- 
town, there was a good deal of fighting and disputing in the 
rain and mud, and Lieutenant Peter, son of Robert Peter, who 
was a lieutenant in the regular army, and a connection of 
Washington, set one of his men to fighting with a Georgetown 
rough, by which the wounded soldier was made blind by the 
other man smearing his eyes with mud, and Mr. Hines 
remembers him led about the streets of Georgetown by a boy 
for years. 


There were no druggists' stores in the city, and but few 
groceries, and a coarse country fair was kept up on the present 
Smithsonian grounds. The first tavern in the city was Betz's, 
in an old two-story frame between Thirteenth and Fourteenth 
streets, with a swinging black Horse sign. After this came 
Ehodes', Queen's, Davidson's, and Tunnecliff's, the first of 
which was at the corner of F and Fifteenth, the next two on 
the Avenue, and Tunnecliff's on Capitol Hill. Mr. Hines saw 
General Washington twice, — the last time in 1798, when he 
crossed the Potomac from the Virginia shore on a ferry-boat, 
near the present Aqueduct bridge, and walked down Water 
street, Georgetown, through rows of citizens uncovered like 
himself. He bowed to them as he passed on. The George- 
town College boys were all formed in a line, in uniforms of 
blue coats and red waistcoats. Washington was escorted by 
the volunteers of Georgetown, and as he crossed Rock Creek 
bridge, to enter the house of his nephew, Thomas Peter, the 
volunteers fired complimentary volleys. At another time, Mr. 
Hines remembers Washington coming up the Potomac in a 
sail-boat, and disembarking in Rock Creek, where there were 
semi-circular steps leading up the bank to Peter's house, 
where he made his home in the city, and which is still stand- 
ing. Mr. Hines remembers John Adams in a line of men 
aiding to pass buckets of water to and fro from the burning of 
the first Treasury Building. He remembers Jefferson, as if 
it were yesterday, riding his horse through the city, wearing 
his hat down over his eyes, and with a blue-cloth double- 
breasted coat with gilded buttons. During Jefferson's first 
term, a freshet in the Potomac, and a sudden torrent of rain, 
which lasted a whole day, so raised the Tiber Creek that it 
flooded Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol gate to Sixth 
street, and made a river on the south side of the Avenue. 
Laborers on the Capitol building, wishing to get to their 
homes, attempted to wade this torrent, and were carried off 
their feet and floated down the stream, where they caught in 
the bushes and branches of trees, and held on perilously 


through the whole night. Mr. Jefferson rode down to the spot 
on horseback, and offered $15 a head for each man saved, and 
the use of his horse to anybody who would make the venture 
to rescue them. 

Mr. Hines remembers Mr. Madison, with his hair powdered 
on all occasions, walking up F street, when Secretary of State, 
from his residence to the White House, where he kept his 
office. He remembers Mr. Monroe walking from the western 
part of the city to the White House, while Secretary of State, 
limping a little, and with his left side always foremost. He 
remembers the General Post Office when it was kept in the 
War Office building, along .with the Patent Office, and has 
seen Mr. Gideon Granger enter his boarding-house in the 
" Seven Buildings." 

In 1858, Christian Hines, and his brother, Matthew Hines, 
took advantage of the latter's confinement to his house to jot 
down together, from their united memories, all the early 
houses and families in the Capital. Matthew Hines died in 
1863, and his brother, with pious industry, recorded their 

The first roadway made on the Avenue was by cutting 
down the bushes and briers with scythes, and carting gravel, 
chips of freestone, and refuse from the new buildings to make 
a footway. The footways were made first, and the middle of 
the street filled and levelled afterward, until the whole 
resembled one of the army-roads made in Virginia during the 
War. Four rows of trees were planted down the Avenue in 
1801, and Mr. Jefferson was frequently there, looking at an 
old man named Buntin setting out the Lombardy poplars. 
Jefferson was fond of going to the spot where all the improve- 
ments were made, and his poplar trees lasted for very many 
years ; but it was rumored that they would not procreate, 
being female trees only. He remembers the forest trees 
growing in beautiful clusters on the site of Welcker's 
restaurant, and has passed through noble virgin groves in 
various parts of the city. 


The Tiber Creek, now almost entirely filled in, was then a 
large sheet of water, clear and deep, great sycamore trees 
extending their roots beneath the banks ; and he has seen 
scows, laden with marble and limestone, towed up the creek 
and fastened to the roots. Wild ducks would settle where the 
Centre Market now stands, so close to the shore that people 
used to throw stones at them ; and he has seen flat-bottomed 
boats, at high tide, towed across part of the President's 
grounds ; and at such times, David Burns' farm and house 
lay off like an island in the deluge. Mr. Hines does not 
clearly recollect that he ever saw Davy Burns, the owner of 
the farm on which the most important part of Washington 
was laid out. He is satisfied, however, from hearing people 
talk about Burns' former condition, that he had been poor, 
and, like the majority of the people of the region, was fond of 
ardent spirits, and often took too much. •> His jug had been 
known to come with much regularity to Georgetown to be 
filled with whiskey, and this fact led to much unneighborly 
comment when, after some years, the farmer's fine daughter, 
Marcia, rode over to the burgh to have her dresses fitted. 
Burns' farm extended from the present Yan Ness mansion to 
the Mausoleum, where he was afterwards buried (on H street, 
near Ninth), and thence to the Centre Market, on the Tiber. 
It therefore included the site of the new State Department, 
Winder's. Building, the Corcoran Art Gallery, the White 
House, the Treasury, the most valuable lands afterward built 
over by Corcoran and others, the Centre Market-house, 
Willard's Hotel, and the most valuable parts of the Avenue. 

Mr. Hines remembers the execution of McGirk, a wife 
murderer, at the foot of Capitol Hill, early in Jefferson's 
Administration; and he attended the first play ever acted in 
the city, where Joseph Jefferson and Junius Brutus Booth 
acquired much of their art. The play was given in the shell 
of Blodgett's unfinished hotel, — that Blodgett who had pro- 
posed to Jefferson to habilitate a whole street with houses, — 
on the Post Office Hill, in 1802. Hines and the boys sucked 


their way into the hotel by getting into the basement, and 
removing loose boards from the floor. 

I asked the old gentleman to tell me how the stone from 
Acquia Creek was raised up Capitol Hill. He said that it 
was taken as far up the Tiber Creek in scows as possible, and 
then run up a sort of platform railway, — the hoisting done 
from the summit. 

The Potomac channel was formerly on the Virginia side of 
Mason's Island, and on that side an emigrant vessel direct 
from Europe landed passengers in the early days, many of 
whom gave respectable families to Washington. Mr. Hines 
keeps in his room the portraits of Lorenzo and Peggy Dow, 
whom he knew very well, and saw Lorenzo's grave many a 
time, in Holmead's burying-ground, at Twentieth and Boundary 
streets, the bodies from which were removed within my own 
memory. He has .heard Lorenzo preach in the old Hall of 
Representatives, many Congressmen listening. Mr. Hines 
remembers ten old and now extinct grave-yards on the site 
of Washington, — one of which (Pearce's) covered a part of 
Lafayette Square, and was an attachment of an apple-orchard. 
Pearce ,was a saddler at Georgetown, and a teacher beyond 
the Eastern Branch. Where his old farm-house and orchard 
stood, the finest part of Washington is now established. 
Jenkins' farm adjoined the Patent Office site. Funk's prop- 
erty — the house built of small imported Holland brick — 
covered Observatory Hill. 

Mr. Hines listened at Decatur's window, with other persons, 
in 1819, and heard the low, dying groans of that gallant 
sailor. " With the poor people of Washington," he said, 
" Decatur was not as popular as with the rich ; yet there was 
a certain austerity about him. He would fight duels, but he 
was brave enough without that." 

Mr. Hines family bought a farm from Dr. Thornton, the 
architect of the Capitol, and had to forfeit it for want of funds 
to make the final payments. The farm stood out near the 
foot of Meridian Hill. He also invested, with 'his brother, 


$900 in the Potomac Canal Company, and lost it, and dug a 
spadeful of earth at the Little Falls, with the spade John 
Quincy Adams had just used. He remembers Adams going 
into swim, as he was wont, near the present Monument 
grounds ; and there is a tradition that the President once had 
his garments stolen while swimming, and was compelled to 
get to the Executive Mansion in a somewhat undignified state 
of nudeness. 

He remembers when General James Wilkinson had his 
headquarters on the Observatory Hill, and also the arrival of 
the first steamboat at the city wharves, the stages running to 
Fredericktown, as they do no longer, and the maintenance of 
a regular sail-ferry over the Potomac at Georgetown. The 
old gentleman showed me a beautiful etching of John 
Randolph, who had bought a lot and put up a house on the 
Hines property, — which house burned down afterward — and 
stated that a lady had made the picture by improving the 
opportunity of Randolph's daily trip along the Avenue. He 
is represented with long, bony legs and thighs, and shallow 
chest — a mere skeleton — and riding a splendid-blooded animal, 
whose sleekness is in strong contrast to Ms meagerness. 
Randolph's cap is pulled down over his eyes, like a student's 
green patch ; but he rides like a natural Virginia hunter. 

Such were some of the recollections of this feeble, stalwart 
old man, who sat before me, with a high black cravat, veins 
large, and feebly moving in the hands and throat ; gray but 
abundant hair, and gray whiskers of a healthy hue. He looked 
poor, but not in need — poor chiefly in days, which he counted 
without apprehension, saying, " The Almighty means to send 
for me very soon now." 



Dining in Washington is a great element in politics. The 
lobby man dines the Representative ; the Representative dines 
the Senator ; the Senator dines the charming widow, and the 
charming widow dines her coming man. For reed birds the 
politician consults Hancock, on the avenue ; for oysters, Har- 
vey ; and for an ice or a quiet supper, Wormly or Page ; but 
there is no dinner like Welcker's. He possesses an autograph 
letter from Charles Dickens, saying that he kept the best res- 
taurant in the world. He has given all the expensive and 
remarkable dinners here for several years ; and talking over 
the subject of his art with him a few days ago, we obtained 
some notions about food and cooking at Washington. 

Welcker is said to be a Bel- 
gian, but he has resided in 
New York since boyhood, and 
he made his appearance in 
Washington at the beginning 
of the, war as steward of the 
seventh regiment. He is a 
youthful, florid, stoutish man, 
with a hearty address, a ready 
blush, and a love for the open 
air and children. Every Sum- 
mer he goes down the Poto- 
mac, shutting his place behind him, and there he fishes and 
shoots off the entire warm season, wearing an old straw hat 




and a coat with only one flap on the tail. Nobody suspects 
that this apparition of Mr. Winkle is the great caterer for the 
Congressional stomach. Nobody imagines that this rustic is 
the person whose sauces can please even Mr. Sam. Ward, that 
distinguished observer for the house of Baring Brothers. No- 
body knows— not even the innocent and festive shad — that 
this Welcker is John Welcker, who came to Washington dur- 
ing our civil broil, drew and quartered for Provost Marshal 
Fry, fed all the war ministers, and gave that historic period 
the agreeable flavor of Mushrooms. 

In the early days of Washington, entertainments other than 
family ones were given at the taverns, some of which, as Beale's, 
stood on Capitol Hill. Afterward Mrs. Wetherill, on Carroll 
Row, set especial dinners, breakfasts, and suppers to order. In 
later times Crutchett on Sixth street, Gautier on the Avenue, 
and Thompson on C street, established restaurants a la carte. 
Gautier sold out to Welcker, who had such success during the 
war that he bought a large brick dwelling on Fifteenth street, 
near the Treasury, and at times he has leased several surround- 
ing dwellings, so that he kept a hotel in fact, though without 
the name. Welcker has a large dining room, eighty feet long- 
by sixteen feet wide, with adjustable screens, adapting it to 
several small parties, or by their removal to make one large 
dining room, which will -seat one hundred people. Welcker's 
main lot is one hundred and thirty-three by twenty-five feet. 

The character of Welcker's entertainments is eminently 
select, and his prices approach those of the English Castle and 
Falcon, or of Philippe's in Paris. His breakfasts and dinners 
a la carte are about at New York rates, less than those of the 
Fourteenth Street Delmonico, and matching the St. James and 
Hoffman restaurant prices. The most expensive dinners he 
has ever given have cost $20 a plate. Fine dinners cost from 
$10 to $12 per plate, and breakfast from $5 to $8 per plate. 
He has fed between six and seven hundred people per diem, as 
on the day of Grant's inauguration. His best rooms rent at 
$8 a day, and consist of a suite of three rooms, but the habit- 


ants thereof pay the establishment for food, wine, &c, not less 
than $50 a day. 

Welcker's chief cook is an Italian Swiss, obtained from Mar- 
tini's, New York, — the same who distinguished himself at 
Charles Knapp's great entertainment in 1865, the cost of which 
was $15,000. Welcker supplied the food for Mr. Knapp's last 
entertainment, in 1867, at the I St. mansion, now occupied by 
Sir Edward Thornton. There are five cooks in all at Welcker's, 
and the establishment employs thirty servants. During the 
past session he has given at least two dinner parties' a day, 
averaging twelve guests at each, and each costing upwards of 

The best fish in the waters of Washington is the Spanish 
mackerel, which ascends the Potomac as high as Wicomico 
river. They come as late as August, and bring even five dol- 
lars a pair when quite fresh. 

, Brook trout, propagated artificially, Welcker thinks lack 
flavor. . He obtains his from Brooklyn, but says that there are 
trout in the Virginia streams of the Blue Ridge. 

Freezing-boxes, or freezing-houses, such as are established in 
Fulton Market, New York, do not exist in Washington. These 
keep fish solid and pure for the entire season. The inventor of 
them is a Newfoundland man, and he proposes to put them up 
in Washington for $300 a piece. 

Welcker says that the articles in which the District of Co- 
lumbia excels all other places are celery, asparagus, and lettuce. 
The potatoes and carrots hereabouts he does not esteem. The 
beef is inferior to the Virginia mutton, which he thinks is the 
best in the world — better than the English Southdown. Poto- 
mac snipe and canvas-back ducks Welcker thinks the best in 
the world, and the oysters of Tangier, York river, and Eliza- 
beth river he considers unexcelled by anyin the world. The 
Virginia partridge and the pheasant, — which are the same as 
the northern quail and the partridge, — Welcker also holds to be 
of the most delicious description. 

Our markets, he says, are dearer than those of New York 


and Baltimore, and less variously and fully stocked. The mar- 
ket system here requires organization, being carried on by a 
multitude of small operators who are too uninformed about 
prices to institute a competitive system, and hence it often hap- 
pens that potatoes are sold at one place for $1.50 a bushel, and 
somewhere near by for only fifty cents a bushel. His market 
bill will average during the session, $600 a week, and some- 
times rises to $300 a day. 

The most expensive fisheries on the Potomac rent for about 
$6,000 a year. Messrs. Knight & Gibson, who have the Long 
Bridge fishery, opposite Washington, paying $2,000 a year for 
it, pay also $6,000 for a fishery near Matthias Point, about 
seventy miles down the Potomac. Knight & Gibson keep a 
fish stand in the Center market. 

The first shad which reach the North come from Savannah, 
and bring in the month of February -as much as $6 a pair. 
Alexandria is the chief mart for saving and salting shad. 
Gangs are often brought from Baltimore, Frederick, and Phila- 
delphia to man the shad boats, and five miles of seine are fre- 
quently played out. The black bass in the Potomac river were 
put in at Cumberland several years ago, and have propagated 
with astonishing fecundity. How much nobler was the exper- 
iment of this benefactor of our rivers than the wide spread 
appetite for destructiveness we see everywhere manifested. 

The most expensive dish furnished by Welcker is Philadel- 
phia capon au sauce Goddard, stuffed with truffles, named for 
the celebrated surgeon Goddard of Philadelphia. The best 
capons come from New Jersey, but good ones are raised in the 
region of Frederick, Md. The capon is probably the most 
delicious of domestic fowls, attaining the size of the turkey, but 
possessing the delicate flesh and flavor of the chicken. Truf- 
fles cost eight dollars a quart can, and four dollars and a-half the 
pint can. They come from France and North Italy, and grow 
on the roots of certain trees. Truffle dogs and boars are 
used to discover them, and the boars wear wire muzzles to 
keep them from eating the precious parasites. Truffles look 


like small potatoes, except that they are jet black through and 
through. The capon is boiled and served with "white-wine 
sauce and with sweet breads. 

Take next for an example the prices which we receive in the 
Arlington, which is a small hotel, with a capacity for no more 
than three hundred and twenty-five persons. 

Senator Cameron paid for himself and wife $450 per month, 
and had but two rooms. Senator Fenton had a parlor, two 
bedrooms, and an office, and paid $1,000 per month. Mr. S. 
S. Cox and wife, paid $250 per week, and he gave a buffet 
supper, for one hundred persons,, which cost him $1,500. Mr. 
W. S. Huntington, gave the Japanese the finest spread ever set 
in the Arlington Hotel ; there were only twenty persons, and 
he paid $1,000. Dr. Helmbold paid $96 per day, and his bill . 
for two weeks was about $1,600. A parlor, and three bed- 
rooms in the second story of the Arlington, with a small family 
occupying them, are worth $450 per week 5 during the season ; 
and one guest here pays for a parlor, bedroom, and bathroom, 
$300 per month. 

At the Delevan House, Albany, Dr. Gautier used to pay $375 
per week, and General Darling, with a parlor, three bedrooms, 
and four persons, paid $400. The hotel at Lake George, had 
37,000 on the register last season, in four months ; it took, in 
that space of time $294,000, and the net profits were $52,000. 

The Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York, rents for $200,000 a 
year, including the stores beneath it. The St. Nicholas rents 
for $95,000, although it cost but $425,000. Mr. A. T. Stewart 
has just rented to William M. Tweed, the Metropolitan Hotel, 
New York, for $85,000 a year, to put his .son, Richard Tweed, 
into business as a landlord ; and the Lelands, who go out, paid 

The cheapest piece of hotel property, in point of rent, in this 
country, is the Brevoort House, New York, which rents for 
$27,500, and has three owners ; it is kept on the European 
plan, excepting the table d J Jiote, which it does not keep up, as 
it has made its reputation on the best cuisine in the world. . 


One evening in 1870 the Capitol of the nation did itself credit, 
by heartily welcoming one of the young sons of the Queen of 
England. The opportunity was a ball given by the • British 
Minister, Thornton, to Prince Arthur, probably with the origi- 
nal motive of making his visit agreeable to the young man, by 
showing him the pretty girls in their most becoming dresses, 
and giving him a convenient chance to speak to them, as a 
young man likes to speak to a fine girl, intimately, and agreea- 
bly. Nothing has ever been invented like a dance, to bring the 
young folks together. The story of Cinderella's slipper turns, 
upon going to the Prince's ball; and I suppose that, so long as. 
human nature remains what it always has been, Princes' balls 
will be popular, and Princes the type of all that is noble and 
exalted. Jones is called the prince of caterers, and Simon 
the prince of sleeping-car conductors, and if the term be a 
compliment when it has no reality in it, how really infatuating 
must be a true Prince, born of the Queen, peer above the 
highest, with jealous mysteries of blood, and a birthright which 
will keep respect and inspire superstition, long after its wearer 
is broken down in character, and ruined in purse. The most 
decided Republican and Democrat, though he may sneer at 
Princes and deprecate attention to them, is apt to feel the 
strange magnetism of the name and the office*, for it is an 
admonition of antique times and government, a word of spell, 
signifying to the ear at least, the issue of those whose love and 
nuptials affected a realm, a period, or a world. This Prince is 
still a Prince, though not a powerful one — a far-off son, with 
elder brothers between him and a throne, — and perhaps he has 
had reason to feel the distance at which he stands from favor ; 
therefore, it was gentle in us, who had treated his high-born 
brother with such opulence of incense and favor, to be no colder 
towards young Arthur. His father and mother were exception- 
ally chaste, as affectionate as wife and man in two sensual and 
selfish lives could be. His mother wrote with her hand, a letter 
of sympathy to the widow of our most precious President. The 
office of Prince in our day is reduced to such small political 


figure, that we could do no harm to monarchy, by showing 
republican bad manners to this young gentleman. And we owe 
it to our high place amongst nations to do cheerful hospitality 
to any Prince or ruler, well-behaved, who comes amongst us 
with frank confidence in our good will and good breeding. 

I write this down, because it is always easy and tempting to 
sneer at Princes ; and when this young man came to the Capi- 
tal, I had an itching to say something that would make you 
laugh about him. There is really no reason, however, for any 
disparagement, because the good sense of our guest and our 
people, has been displayed during his visit. If any low fellow 
has said anything coarse in his presence, I have not heard of it. 
He has been subjected to a round of official dinners and recep- 
tions, which I would not have passed through for a hundred 
dollars a day, and he has kept himself patient and obliging all 
the time. More than that, he is a young man, and can't help 
being a Prince. S.o good luck to him ! 

Mrs. Thornton, like the first walking lady in a comedy, 
gathered up her moire antique dress with the satin trail, close 
to the blue satin panier, and surrounded with Apollos of lega- 
tion, each looking like a silver-enamelled angel out of a valen- 
tine, accomplished the descent of the stairs, treading all the 
way upon scarlet drugget, and helped by the laurel-entwined 

At the foot was the Prince, dressed in the uniform of the 
British Rifles, — dark sack coat, double-breasted, buttoned to 
the throat, and well trimmed and frogged along the lappels ; 
tight, dark-colored pantaloons, with a stripe, strapped over 
patent leather boots ; a steel-sheathed dress sword, at his side ; 
an infantry cap in his hand ; a little cartridge box, like a 
tourist's glass, strapped across his shoulder ; and What shone 
and flashed like a streak of day-light through him, was a huge 
jewelled star, the insignia of the Garter. This latter, perhaps 
the symbol of the highest nobility in Christendom, was more 
observed than the clear skinned, rosy face of the young man, 
his brown hair, good teeth, and obedient and intelligent eye. 


His clothes clung almost as closely to him as his skin, and while 
he was one of the most plainly-dressed persons conspicuous 
upon the floor, this fact alone made him somewhat eminent. 
There was that, besides, which gave him beauty and character 
beyond the star that threw a hundred sheets of light every way 
he turned ; the fine distinction of ruddy youthfulness, made 
modest and interesting by being placed in such prominence. 
If a young man knows how to feel publicity, and yet bear him- 
self well under it, so that there is a nice mingling of self-reliance, 
and sensitiveness, the effect upon a crowd is to get him hearty 
sympathy — the next thing to admiration. 

Arthur gave Mrs. Thornton his arm, and escorted her to 
the ball room. The Cupids out of the valentines, the Prince's 
followers, and all the rest of the little suite and embassy joined 
in behind, making quite a spangled procession, as if the gas 
fixtures were going to a party in company with the window 
curtains. As they all came along together, gold ramrod and 
satin drapery, the band in the gallery struck up, " God save 
the Queen !" Then the people sitting in cane chairs on both 
sides of the long hall stood up, and ceased waving their fans. 
The shoe blacks and darkeys in the street below, looked up at 
the flaming windows, and said interjections, and danced steps 
of involuntary jigs, and said out of their malicious little spirits : 
"Shoo Fly." ' . 

Arthur, with Mrs. Thornton still on his arm, walked the whole 
length" of the hall to the carpeted platform, when he turned 
about, and waited modestly till the music ceased. Then he 
shook hands with many folks standing round, whom he remem- 
bered, or thought he did. Elphinstone, his aid, was covered 
all over with medals of daring, gained probably, by such victo- 
ries as this, and he wore the gorgeous uniform of his red- 
complexioned nation. Picard, another aid, wore the English 
artillery uniform. They looked well, as Englishmen look — a 
sort of stiffened-up suggestion of manhood, with indications of 
skye terrier fringing out. 

One of the romances of Washington city was recently enacted 


in the Diplomatic Corps. For nearly thirty years Baron Gerolt 
served the interests of Prussia at Washington city, and he lived 
long enough to rear native-born American children under the 
shadow of the Capitol, one of whom married Mr. Rangabe, the 
Greek minister. Gerolt owed his appointment to this country, 
to Baron Humboldt, who had been entertained by him while 
charge in Mexico, and who recommended him to the King 
of Prussia. Gerolt was an affable, republican sort of man in 
society, fond of the American people, and his social associates 
were men like Charles Sumner and others, who inclined him 
towards the Federal side in the war of the rebellion. He prob- 
ably got considerable credit for original principle during the 
war, when he was really subordinate to acquaintances ot a 
stronger will, who impressed the claims of the North upon him. 
It is charged that, at home, he was ' somewhat tyrannical with 
his family, as is the German custom : and that he and his wife 
wished to assert too much authority over their children, who 
had inhaled the breath of the "Western hemisphere. Whatever 
the interior side of his life might have been, Gerolt is remem- 
bered enthusiastically by some of the best people in Washing- 
ton, Republicans and Democrats alike. He resides at Linz, 
near Bonn, in Rhenish Prussia, and is permanently out of the 
diplomatic service of North Germany. 

The Gerolts, although Germans, are Catholics, and the girls 
were strictly brought up under the tuition of the priests at 
Georgetown. Bertha, the youngest daughter of the Baron, now 
about twenty-three years of age, and a very rich and handsome 
type of the young German girl, fell in love, three or four years 
ago, with her father's Secretary of Legation, a tall, handsome, 
dashing and somewhat reckless Prussian, and a connection or 
relative of Bismarck. This young Secretary belonged to a fine 
old Brandenburg Protestant family, which had decided notions 
against forming Catholic alliances. The young gentleman 
would have fallen heir, in time, to large estates in North Prus- 
sia ; but these were in some manner, as it is stated, made con- 
ditional upon his keeping up the. ancestral Lutheran faith. 


This young Prussian chap, you may recollect as being the an- 
tagonist of one of our ministers, Lawrence of Central America, 
some two or three years ago, when the two met on what is 
called the field of honor, exchanged shots, and then patched up 
the fight without bloodshed. He paid court to Bertha Gerolt, 
and she was intensely enamored of him. In order to make the 
nuptials easy on both sides, Gerolt applied to the "Catholic 
Church authorities for an indulgence, or something, warranting 
the marriage of this hereditary Protestant with his Catholic 
daughter ; but as it was specified that the children issuing from 
such marriage were to be brought up Protestants, the Roman 
dignitaries refused. Gerolt, who appears sincerely to have 
wished to please his child, had also intentions upon the Pope ; 
but while these ecclesiastical efforts were being made, the do- 
mestic correspondence between the Secretary and his mother 
in Germany, and some ensuing letters from Madame, growing 
warmer and more indignant from time ttf time, had the effect 
of racking the poor girl's feelings ; and, in the end, the hand- 
some Prussian went home. This is an end to the matter up to 
the present. Bertha Gerolt refused to accompany either her 
father or mother to Germany, and has retired to the George- 
town Convent, where, some say, she will take the last veil ; and 
others that she will repent after a while, and reappear in the 

Opinion is divided in this city as to why Gerolt was remanded 
to his own country. Some say that he suffered certain indigni- 
ties at the hands of our State Department. Others allege that 
he was insufficient particularly about the time that American 
arms were shipped to France to be used against the Prussians. 
It is said that, on that occasion, Bismarck asked Mr. Bancroft 
why our goverment permitted such things ; and Bancroft, to 
make it easy for himself, retorted that there was Baron Gerolt 
in Washington, and, if he had been attending to his business, the 
arms would have been detained. Others say that Catacazy 
drew Gerolt into an intrigue, and got him to work against the 
late treaty which we made about the Alabama claims. • What- 


ever the facts, the Baron has gone for good, and his admirers 
here are preparing to forward him an elaborate service of sil- 
ver, to show that what he did for the country in its crisis is 
remembered at least by its private citizens. 

You have many a pretty girl in the West who would be ex- 
cited if the prospect were held out to her of marrying the Por- 
tuguese Secretary of Legation. Yet a Portuguese person of 
nearly that description was content to marry a negro girl the 
other day, at the Capital to which he was accredited. The Pe- 
ruvian minister's wife was raised here ; and the former Russian 
minister married the pretty daughter of a boarding-house keeper 
at Georgetown. Yet were any of them happier, or even richer ? 
I doubt it much. One New Year's day I saw a beautiful 
woman, reared here, who is soon to go to "Russia for life, and 
consort with candle eaters in a cold empire where the flag that 
was the pride of our babyhood does not float, where the 
music and the language we love is not spoken, and nfiddle age, 
and old age, and her children must be given to a people who 
can never know her like her countrymen. It is strange to see 
women deluded'into these alliances by some high fangled echo 
of a word, or a fashion-plate. As a rule, these foreigners ac- 
credited to the Capital of the United States are either politicians 
of the third class around the governments of their countries, or 
courtiers of the third class. An European courtier, reduced to 
his essentials, is a pleasing politician around his Capital, pres- 
sing to be provided for, fed, and rewarded. He has passed 
through the same straights, shrewnesses, and triumphs as an 
American politician, held up somebody's coat tail, been some- 
body's brother-in-law, owed his appointment to the pretty face 
of a sister, or he has written up the side of some patron, in a 
pamphlet or newspaper, and crowded all sail to be furnished 
with an exchequer in other parts. When an American" girl, 
therefore, marries " a member of the foreign legation," she mar- 
ries merely a politician or a noodle who can spe*ak only bad 
English," who probably marries her for her money or for his 
ennui, and who is habituated to having mistresses at home. 


I am not speaking of anybody, nor of everybody, in the 
foreign legations at Washington, when I thus produce the com- 
parative light of fact and experience upon them ; but as a 
general rule, I would not take a turn next door, to see a mem- 
c ber of legation. 

We know, by observation upon him at home, — that being in a 
white and gold cocked hat, a sword, a ruffled shirt, and a pair 
of scarlet and gold trousers, who came up before the President 
on the first day of the year, and bowed, and left his royal 
master's condescensions. 

It was with such feelings, — While recognizing many reverend 
and excellent gentlemen among the foreign ministers at a levee, 
and several persons of talent and pursuit, — that I ran my eye 
along the gaily attired line, — the romance of the name, and the 
livery gone from my mind ; while at the head of our State, in 
plain black, stood the little General who fought bigger battles 
than any of their Kings, and commanded a nation of men with 
more destiny than all their combined States possessed antiquity. 

The mystery and magic of the foreign service and uniform, 
are kept alive entirely by our American women. We men do 
not believe in them. If Miss Jane Smith, or the widow 
Tompkins, marries Signor Straddlebanjo, she ascends, in the 
female mind, to the seventh heaven of respect, while eating yet 
the same pork chops, -and taking milk from the same pump and 

Many of these gentlemen have found good wives and com- 
fortable homes among us! You are aware that the famous 
French Minister, Genet, set this example early, by retreating 
from the contempt of Washington, and the frown of Jefferson, 
into the bosom of the Clinton family, and never returned to 
France at all. That famous old rooster married three time? 
If I am well informed, in the United States, and some time a< 
when I was introduced in New York 'to a lawyp" 
politician named Genet, I said to liim musingly : 

" Why ! that was the name of the great 1 


" My grandfather !" replied the politician of Tammany Hall. 

When Mr. Johnson shoved his friend, the Adjutant-General, 
through the tenure-of-omce act, he had little idea how he was 
hastening the marriage ceremony of little Bibbapron. Bibb- 
apron had fixed his engagement day for the first of July, so as 
to be in New York on the Fourth, and set off some firecrackers, 
after" which he expected to make some good resolutions to regu- 
late family life at Saratoga Springs. But people who are 
engaged, are always impatient. They are left alone together 
a good deal, and find waiting to be a sort of dissipation. It is 
neither pursuit nor possession, neither fish nor flesh. It is the 
tenderest, most quarrelsome, most tantalized, most disheartened, 
most forebode- ful period of love. No wonder that Bibbapron, 
when he heard of the " High Court of Impeachment," the 
solemnity of the spectacle," and the great learning of the 
managers and counsel, had but to suggest to Molly what a 
delightful time it would be to visit Washington, when she 
embraced himself, and the occasion. The milliner was hurried 
up. Ma was persuaded that Summer was an unhealthy season 
in the East. The little marriage ceremony was not held in the 
church, but in the parlor at home, and the clergyman's fee 
reduced somewhat in consequence. Bibbapron's papa gave his 
son a letter to Congressman Starch, and the express train saw 
the pair tucked in, the last tear shed, and the town of Skyuga 
fade from the presence of its prettiest girl. It is to tell all the 
engaged folks how to get to Washington and how to see it, that 
I reluctantly took Mrs. Bibbapron's diary and copy a few pages 
from it. They are strictly accurate, for which the other corres- 
pondents don't care to use them. Mrs. Bibbapron has a way 
of italicising every other word in diary, which I don't care to 
' nutate, and she makes a very pretty period with a tear, which, 
course, I cannot do. The diary was a present from her' 
'ster ; it had an almanac in it and blank washing lists, 
is from the poets under each date. Here it begins : 
^8 — Dear me, how tired ! I am in Washington, 
United States. It's not larger than New 


York, my husband, Alonzo, says, which I think is a great shame. 
Government ought to make it bigger right away, or have it 
somewhere where it would get bigger, itself. The maps are all 
incorrect about Washington, where it is represented by a great 
many dots, while all the other towns have only one dot. We 
went to Willard's Hotel, and, in order to give us a fine view 
of the city, they put us up in the top story. We went down to 
breakfast at nine o'clock, and called for oysters, of course. 
They tasted as if they had been caught in warm water. The 
fresh shad was quite a bone to pick. My dear husband took a 
cocktail before breakfast. He says it's quite the thing here. 
Senator Tatterson joined him, he says. I hope my husband 
will never be a drunkard!" 

N. B. — He says the Senator took his straight. 

Half-past ten o'clock. — Alonzo, my darling husband, has 
been to see Congressmen Starch, and brought him into the ladies' 
parlor. Pa can't abide Congressman Starch, because they 
differ in politics ; but Alonzo's Pa is a Republican, and lent 
Mr. Starch a horse and wagon, to bring up voters. I think it 
was very generous of the Congressman to ask so particularly 
about Pa's health. He gave me two tickets for the great trial. 
He saysthey are very scarce, and old ones are sold for relics 
for ever so much ■ money. The managers buy the old ones to 
paste their photographs on them, and present them to the 
Historical Societies. Congressman Starch says he lost his best 
constituent to give me these tickets, but told me to be particular 
not to tell Pa about it. He says Johnson is the great criminal 
of the age, and ought to have been impeached before he was 
born. There is no doubt, he says, that it was Johnson in dis- 
guise who murdered Mr. Lincoln, and then bribed Booth with 
a clerkship to be killed in his place. He says -that General 
Butler offers to prove that Boston Corbett was only Andrew 
Johnson, who killed Booth to keep him from telling. Poor 
Booth ! He died saying ' Poor Carlotta !' I never sing that 
song but tears come to my eyes, and I think of my husband. 
Alonzo will never kill the President. He was brought up a 


Five o'clock, P. M. I have seen all the great patriots of our 
country. Mr. Sumner .is the greatest of them all, his hair is 
so exquisite. Mr. Brooks, of New York, who gave him such 
a beating, was on the floor of the Senate, wearing spectacles. 
He is a newspaper editor, and drives a pair of cream-colored 
horses. He must be a dreadful man, but is right good 
looking. Mr. Sumner forgives him, because he prints his 

I am going too fast, but really, I have so much to do to-day, 
that I don't know where to begin. We took the horse cars to 
the Capitol, and went along Pennsylvania Avenue. The 
National Hotel looks sick, ever since the celebrated disease 
there. I was surprised to see so many negroes in the car. 
Congress compels them to ride, in order to carry out the Civil 
Eights bill. The poor souls look dreadfully as if they wanted to 
walk some. Dear me ! I love to walk since I am married. I 
can take my husband's arm then and pinch him. It seems to me 
that we ain't happy unless we pinch those we love ! 

The Capitol is the grandest, most wonderful building in the 
whole world. It is all marble, with a splendid dome above it, 
and a perfect hide-and-seek of aisles, passage?, and gorgeous 
stairways. It looks like a marble quarry in blossom. They 
wash it every night, and the government officers spit it yellow 
every day. Alonzo says tobacco is bought by the ream, and 
charged to "stationery." He says that this is quite right, 
because when the members have a chaw in their mouths they 
speak less and save time. I hope my husband will never chew 
tobacco. Government ought to pass a law against it, and get 
the women to enforce it. On the top of the Capitol is a statue 
of Pocahontas, flying a kite ; I should think it ought to be 
Benjamin Franklin, but they have got him inside in marble. 
It will take millions and millions to furnish the Capitol. I sup- 
pose they will have nothing but Axminster carpets and oiled 
walnut. In the dome of the Capitol there are beautiful pic- 
tures. I liked the marriage of Pocahontas the best. She wears 
her hair plain, and her dress looks like a bolster case. The 

a bride's diary. 191 

Indian women have beautiful figures but their clothes are dow- 
dy. Some of them in this picture wear goose feathers for full 
dress, and look to have caught cold. But that's what's ex- 
pected of a bridesmaid. She dresses for a consumption ! 

We got good seats next to the Diplomatic Gallery. Alonzo 
pointed out the Russian Minister and his wife to me ; we ad- 
mired them very much till we heard that it was the Minister's 
Coachman and cook. The foreign Ministers send their servants 
here when they want their gallery to look genteel. Theodore 
Tilton was distinguished by his long hair. He has withdrawn 
the nomination of Chase, and ruined the Chief-Justice. He 
looks sad about it. Congressman Starch showed us the Chief- 
Justice, a man like Washington in holy orders. Mr. Starch 
said he would be impeached soon with all the Judges. The 
Bench, he says, is rotten. (Why not give them chairs?) He 
said if it had not been for the Bench, the constitution, which 
is the cause of all this trouble, would have been done 1 away 
with long ago. Dear me! an old rotten bench ought not to 
keep our country in such peril. The Senate Chamber is all 
buff and gilt, like an envelope on Valentine's day. There is a 
silver ice pitcher on the table of the President's counsel, which 
I believe is plated. I wish I could just go down and feel of it. 
They say that the Government is swindled in everything. Per- 
haps the coolest swindle is ice pitchers. This is mean. Wash- 
ington, Webster, and Mr. Starch must be incapable of it. If 
my husband ever comes to Congress I mean to work him a pair 
of slippers in red, white, and blue. Then he can't go across 
the street, like Mr. Alwusbeery to drink between votes, in his 
stocking feet. 

I saw Mrs. Southworth, the great novelist, author of the 
"Deserted Step-Mother." She lives at Georgetown in a haunt- 
ed boarding-house. Her health is good, considering what 
must be her distress of mind, say two hundred pounds without 
jewelry. Her dress was a black silk, tabs on the mantilla, 
and angel-sleeves, so as to leave space to swing her beautiful 
pen. If I could write like Mrs. Southworth, I would keep 


Alonzo, ray darling husband, sitting at my feet in tears all the 

Mrs. Swizzlem, the colored authoress of Mrs. Keckley's book, 
was in the diplomatic gallery with one of Mrs. Lincoln's dresses 
on, counting through an opera glass the pimples on the face of 
one of the Senators. She hates his wife, Alonzo says, and 
means to worry her. 

Mr. Thornton, the British Minister, looks very much worried. 
Congressman Starch says that Senator Chandler is a Fenian, 
and means to make a dreadful speech at poor Mr. Thornton. 
Alonzo is afraid it will miss fire, and kill some innocent per- 
son. Senator "Wade, the next President, looks like Martha 
Washington. He is a very pious man, beloved by everybody, 
and would have become a preacher if they had not wanted him 
so bad for President. 

Twelve A. M ! ■ Oh, dear ! that ever I was married ! Be 
still, »my poor soul ! I have heard of the wickedness of men — 
now I know it ! Last night I heard something like a wheel- 
barrow coming up stairs. It seemed to fall around, the elbows 
and upset at all the platforms. It tumbled right up to my 
room. The wheelbarrow burst right through the door ; first 
came the wheel and then pitched the barrow on top of it. The 
barrow was Congressman Starch, the wheel was — Alonzo. They 
joined themselves together again and wheeled forward, right 
up onto the bed. There were so many legs and so much motion 
and hallooing that I could not tell my husband from the other. 
I said, however: 

"Merciful Heavens! " 

To this replied my husband, in terms like the following: 

" Johnsing's gone up. Starchy threw cashting vote. Mime 
going tee be Conshul-General under Ben Wade — all hunk! " 

Said a voice, proceeding, as I conjectured, from the owner of 
that pair of legs which did not wear Alorizo's trowsers : 

"Yesh! bet your Impartial Justice according to zhee laws. 
Mime going ter be Secretary thinteeryer ! " 

I rang the bell and Avept. The waiters removed the Con- 


gressman. My husband snored. I hope the bed was buggy 
for he deserved it. In the morning, after a sleepless night, I 
heard Alonzo cry : 

" Miss Bibbapron ! Congress water ! " 

Now I know where this dreadful Congress water gets its 
name. It's what makes Senators tipsy. 

I hope the Impeachment trial will be done soon. Congress- 
man Starch shall never get my vote. Oh ! that I should be a 
bride and bring my husband to Washington ! " 





The President's residence down to 1800 was of a floating 
character ; now in New York, now in Philadelphia ; and the 
ladies of the Executive branch of the government were very 
like women in barracks with army officers ; sometimes sent 
into damp dwellings, again like the wives of Methodist preach- 
ers, perpetually waiting for ships to come with their clothes and 

Mrs. John Adams, in a volume of letters, edited by the late 
Minister to England, her grandson, which I have found in the 
Congressional Library, gives some lively sketches of a Presi- 
dent's wife. "Writing to her married daughter in the latter 
part of November, 1790, from Philadelphia, she speaks dole- 
fully of her quarters and those of the ladies of the Cabinet. 

" Poor Mrs. Knox, (wife of the first Secretary of War,) is 
in great tribulation about her furniture. The vessel sailed the 
day before the storm and had not been heard of on Friday last. 
I had a great misfortune happen to my best trunk of clothes. 
The vessel sprung a leak and my trunks got wet a foot high, by 


which means I have several gowns spoiled ; and the one you 
(Mrs. Smith) worked is the most damaged, and a black satin — 
the blessed effects of tumbling about the world." 

After a while the City of "Washington was laid out, and in 
the first year of this century, Mrs. John Adams started for the 
great new " Palace " of the President. The whole story is told 
in a letter to her daughter, Mrs. Smith, written November 21st, 
1800. It is notable as being probably the first letter ever writ- 
ten in the White House by its mistress : 

" I arrived here Sunday last, and without meeting with any 
accident worth noticing, except losing ourselves when we left 
Baltimore, and going eight or nine miles on the Frederick road, 
.by which means we were obliged to go the other eight through 
woods, where we wandered two hours without finding a guide 
or the path. Fortunately a straggling black came up with us, 
and we engaged him as a guide, to extricate us out of our diffi- 
culty ; but woods are all you see from Baltimore until you reach 
the city, which is so only in name. Here and there is a small 
cot, without a glass window, interspersed among the forests, 
through which you travel miles without seeing any human 

" The house is upon a grand and superb scale, requiring about 
thirty servants to attend and keep the apartments in proper 
order, and perform the ordinary business of the house and 
stables- — an establishment very well proportioned to the Presi- 
dent's salary. The lighting of the apartments from the kitchen 
to parlor and chambers, is a tax indeed ; and the fires we are 
obliged to keep to secure us from daily agues is another very 
cheering comfort. To assist us in this great castle, and render 
less attendance necessary, bells are wholly wanting, not one 
single one being hung through the whole house, and promises 
are all you can obtain. This is so great an inconvenience that 
1 know not what to do or how to do. * * * If they will 
put up some bells and let me have wood enough to keep fires, 
I design to be pleased. Surrounded with forests, can you be- 
lieve that wood is not to be had, because people cannot be 


found to cut and cart it ? * * * Briesler has had recourse 
to coal ; but we cannot get grates made and set. We have 
indeed come into a new country. You must keep all this to 
yourself, and when asked how I like it, say that I write you the 
situation is beautiful, which is true. 

"The house is made habitable, but there is not a single 
apartment finished, and all within-side, except the plastering, 
has been done since Briesler (the steward) came. We have 
not the least fence, yard or other convenience without, and the 
great unfinished audience-room I make a drying-room of, to 
hang up the clothes in. The principal stairs are not up, and 
will not be this Winter. Six chambers are made comfortable ; 
two are occupied by the President and Mr. Shaw ; two lower 
rooms, one for a common parlor, and one for a levee room. 
Up stairs there is the oval room, which is designed for the 
drawing-room, and has the crimson furniture in it. It is a very 
handsome room now, but when completed, it will be beautiful. 
If the twelve years in which this place has been considered as 
the future seat of Government, had been improved, as they 
would have been in New England, very many of the present 
inconveniences would have been removed." 

Mrs. Adams, writing again November 27th, says that : " Two 
articles we are most distressed for ; the one is bells, but the 
more important is wood. Yet you cannot see wood for trees. 
We have only one cord and a half of wood in this house where 
twelve fires are constantly required. It is at a price, indeed ; 
from four dollars it has risen to nine ! " 

Again, Mrs. Adams shows us a picture of distress almost as 
bad as a Methodist preacher's wife's experiences : 

" The vessel which has my clothes and other matters is not 
arrived. The ladies are impatient for a drawing-room. 1 have 
no looking-glasses but " dwarfs" for this house ; nor a twen- 
tienth-part lamps enough to light it. Many things were stolen ; 
more broken by removal ; among the number my tea china is 
more than half missing. Georgetown affords nothing." 

Mrs. Adams was a preacher's daughter, married young, and 


Jefferson's habits. 197 

she burst into tears when her husband got his first nomination 
to anything. They lived together fifty-three years. John was 
the son of a religious shoemaker, and himself a school-teacher. 
His conceit was large, his thrift equal to it, and all the Adamses 
since his day have not degenerated from these standards. They 
were the original Yankees of the White House, and it is re- 
markable that every Northern President has saved some of his 
salary, while the contrary is true of every Southerner but one. 
They kept the unfinished mansion in a righteous sort of way, 
drank a good deal of tea, shopped cheap, went to church through 
mud and snow, and the plasterers told so many stories about 
what they saw through the cracks that Congress elected Adams 
out, and demanded a man who should be a little wicked and 
swear some. Lemonade and oat-cakes were the standard lunch 
in those times. 

Jefferson liked his social glass ; he used darkeys to do the 
chores ; he had to pay his own secretary, like everybody else 
down to Jackson's time, provide his own library, and meet 
deficits out of his own pocket.* His wife, who had been a 
widow, like Mrs. Washington, died long before his accession, 
and he had a house full of daughters and adopted daughters. 
It was French republican simplicity and camp-meeting court- 
ing. Jefferson talked with everybody freely, disliked clergy- 
men, never had an opinion but he ventilated it ; but he held 
more than his own, because he was a great man, without affec- 

*It is common saying in these days, that it costs a President for the first time 
more than $25,000 per annum to live in Washington. Mr. Jefferson wrote in 
1807 : " I find on' a review of my affairs here as they will stand on the 3d of March, 
that I shall be three or four months' salary behindhand. In ordinary cases, this 
degree of arrearage would not bo serious, but on the scale of the establishment 
here, it amounts to seven or eight thousand dollars, which having to come out of 
my private funds, will be felt by me sensibly." He then directs his commission 
'merchant to obtain a loan from a Virginia bank, and adds : " I have been under 
an agony of mortification * * * Nothing could be more distressing 
to me than to leave debts here unpaid, if indeed, I should be permitted to depart 
with them unpaid, of which I am by no means certain." He may have appre- 
hended from tradesmens' rapacity, aided by political hostility, imprisonment for, 


tations. In those days, atheists, painters, editors, Bohemians, 
and carpet-baggers of all sorts, foreign and domestic, made 
free with the "White House. The President, red-haired and 
spindle-shanked, read all the new poems, admired all that was 
antique and all that was new, but nothing between times. The 
White House was hung with no red tape. It stood all this 
loose invasion because there was a real, sincere man in it. 

In Mrs. James Madison the present White House found its 
brilliant mistress, albeit she had been brought up a Quaker, Mis- 
tress Dolly Payne, then Mrs. Todd, widow, and at last the wife 
of Congressman Madison, who had been jilted early in life by 
Miss Floyd, her townswoman. Madison was well along in 
years when he married, and Mrs. Madison had to take care of 
him. He had no children. The place was clear there for out- 
side company, and it is questionable as to whether the house 
has at any time since been so well administered. Madison was 
a diminished and watered copy of Washington, and made a 
good parlor ornament. There was nothing little about him, 
except a general want of character, compensated for by a good 
deal of respectability Mrs. Madison made the big house ring 
with good cheer ; dancing was lively, as in Jefferson's time ; the 
lady was " boss," and, unlike most of her imitators, had the 
genius for it. The whole cost of the President's house, now 
perfectly completed, had been $333,307. 

After the British burne4 it, the total cost of rebuilding, and 
adding two porticoes, $301,496.25. The burning happened so 
unexpectedly, that one of Mrs. Madison's great dinners was 
eaten by the British, all smoking as they found it. The lady 
herself cut out of its frame a cherished portrait of Washington, 
still preserved in the mansion, and when the President returned, 
they opened house on the corner of Twentieth street and the 
avenue, near the " circle," on the way to Georgetown. . After 
Madison died, his widow rented a house opposite the White 
House, and kept up the only secondary, or ex-Presidential 
Court, ever held in Washington. 

Mr. Monroe's wife was a fairly wealthy lady of New York, 




and lie came to the Presidency at an era when all parties har- 
monized. The White House was quite a court in his day, as 
he had an interesting family, gave great dinners, and looked 
benevolently through his blue eyes, at all the receptions. He 
had no brilliant qualities, and therefore had no " nonsense 
about him." By this time the White House had been all re- 
stored and furnished, although the grounds were still a good 
deal like a brick yard. Let us look at the furniture of it in 
those days, little changed down to the period of Harriet Lane 
and Mrs. Lincoln. 

James Hoban built both the original and the reconstructed 
White House. It stands on ground forty-four feet above high 
water, but the drainage all around it is bad, so that fever and ague 
may be caught there if you only prepare your mind to get them. 
A small chest of homoeopathic medicines in the house is a sure 
preventative, whether you take them or not. The building is 


one hundred and seventy feet long and eighty-six deep, built of 
free-stone over all. There is an Ionic portico in front and 
rear, opening upon grounds of shade and lawn which are open 
to the public at all times. The front portico is double, so as 
to admit folks on foot and carriages also. About one-half of 
the upper part of this house belongs to the family elected to 
live in it, and also some of the basement ; but the whole of the 


first or main floor is really public property, and half the second 
floor is the President's business office. Therefore, ladies, you 
will own as much of the White House when you come to live 
in it, as you own of the hotel in which you board. 

The great mansion has a wide hall in it, a stairway on one 
side, leading up to the office-rooms, and at the bottom, or, to be 
less Cockney, the end of the hall, there is a large oval room, 
opening out of which are two parlors, left and right ; go through 
the room to the right and you enter the great dining-room ; go 
through the room to the left and you enter the large banqueting- 
room. Now see the size of these rooms, which you will per- 
ceive at once to be home-like as a connected series of meeting- 
houses : 

Hall (entrance), 40 by 50 feet. 

Oval room, 40 by 30 feet. \ 

Square parlors (left and right), 30 by 22 feet. 

Company dining-room, 40 by 30 feet. 

Banqueting (or East) room, 80 by 40 feet. 

All these rooms are twenty-two feet high. You will perceive 
that they are eminently cosy and contracted. The President's 
private rooms consist of a great barn-like waiting-room, and two 
or three connecting offices. Let us see how these rooms were 
furnished in the time of Monroe, Adams, and Jackson ; a de- 
scription which is nearly perfect for to-day. I get these facts 
from an old book, defunct since 1830, called " Jonathan Elliot's 
History of the Ten Mile Square." Oval-room, crimson flock 
paper, with deep gilt border ; crimson silk chairs, ditto window 
curtains ; one great piece of pattern carpet interwoven with arms 
of the United States ; tables and chimney-pieces of marble ; 
two huge mirrors and a cut-glass chandelier. Into this oval 
room the square rooms to left and right open on levee nights, 
with furniture as follows, distributed also amongst the dining- 
rooms : Paper of green, yellow, white and blue, respectively 
sprinkled with gilt stars and bordered with gold ; between the 
two dining-rooms, company and private, the china (not your 
own, ladies), is stored, and the provender (enough in all con 

:;:; ;; ; IPI1 

m m -■IP 






science to pay for) is kept on ice, subject only to the trifling 
pilferings of the aristocratic steward, who commonly keeps two 
or three small groceries in the suburbs running. These rooms 
are plentiful with panelings, mirrors, chandeliers, and a paint- 
ing or two of not much consequence comes in. There was no 
gas in these rooms till the time of Polk, and everybody was 
greasy with candles. It looked like a perpetual secular mass, 
got up for the masses. The enormous East room had lemon- 
colored paper with cloth border ; four mantels of black marble 
with Italian black and gold fronts ; great grates, all polished ; 
a mirror over each mantel, eight and a half feot high by five 
feet wide, ponderously framed; 


five hundred yards of Brus- 
sels carpet, colored fawn, blue 
and yellow with deep red bor- 
ders ; three great cut-glass 
chandeliers and numerous gilt 
brackets ; curtains of light 
blue moreen with yellow dra- 
peries, a gilded eagle holding 
up the drapery of each ; a 
cornice of gilded stars all 
around the room ; sofas and 
chairs of blue damask satin ; interior east room. 

under every chandelier a rich round table of black and gold 
slabs, and in all the piers a table corresponding, with splendid 
lamps above each ; rare French China vases, etc. 

Here, you have the "White House pretty much as it stands, 
barring the leaky roof that nobody can mend ; a huge hotel, 
full of the ghosts of dead men and the echoes of political gab- 
ble ; ringing of nights with the oaths of Jackson, the fiddle of 
Jefferson, the cooing of John Tyler, the dirges over the corpses 
of Harrison, Taylor, and Lincoln. If you come to live in it, 
you know nothing of who else is visitor. Marry a man who 
keeps a hotel, and you have about all that a President's lady 


John Quincy Adams was arraigned in the campaign of 1828 
for having put up a billiard table in the White House. This 
had been bought by his son and secretary, Charles Francis 
Adams, out of the latter's private allowance. It was the first 
billiard table ever set up in the White House. During his ad- 
ministration, the East room, in which his mother had hung 
clothes to dry, was so gorgeously furnished, that the Jackson 
people abused him for it on the stump, and in the party news- 
papers. He was the most perfect host, except Millard Fillmore, 
and possibly Frank Pierce, that the North ever gave to the 
White House: Modest, bold, widely experienced, he was the 
last learned man that has lived in the Executive Mansion, and 
more learned than any other occupant of it. He was too genteel 
to be re-elected. He went down to duty as cheerfully as to an 
apotheosis, and graduated out of the White House into Con- 

" The White House," says James Parton, " has more in com- 
mon with the marquee of a Commander-in-Chief than the home 
of a civilized family. Take it, therefore, as it looked under 
Old Hickory, the archetype of Mr. Johnson. To keep up the 
Presidential hospitality, he had to draw upon the proceeds of 
his farm. Before leaving Washington, in 1837, he had to send 
for six thousand dollars of the proceeds of his cotton crop in 
order to pay the debts caused by the deficit of the last year's 
salary. A year previous to that time he had to offer for sale a 
valuable piece of land in Tennessee, to get three thousand dol- 
lars, for which he was in real distress. "Here in Washington," 
he says, " 1 have no control of my expenses, and can calculate 
nothing on my salary." 

Earl was the painter Carpenter of Andrew Jackson, and 
painted his portrait in the White House. Earl used to get 
orders because he had the ear of Jackson. Everybody in Chris- 
tendom poured into the White House in those days. Mrs. 
Eaton was the Mrs. Cobb of the time, and Jackson's most per- 
sistent public effort was to make people visit her. He used 
Martin Van Buren for the tolerably little business of forcing 



this lady into society, and finally dismissed all his cabinet and 
sent his daughter and son home to Tennessee, because they re- 
fused to embrace this lady. At the levees everybody ate cheese ; 
when there was no cheese they ate apples, cold smoked sausage, 
anything provided it had a smell. The place stank with old 
pipe and smoke ; it was redolent with Bourbon whiskey. For 
the first time the Executive Mansion became a police-office, a 
caucus-room, a guard-room, a mess-tent. But Jackson's vices 
were all of a popular sort. He called all his supporters by 
their first names. General Dale, of Mississippi, met Jackson 
strolling in the grounds in front of the President's house. 
(What President walks in the grounds familiarly any more ?) 
" Sam," said the General, " come up and take some whiskey." 
He shivered his clay pipes, uttering emphatic sentences. He 
invited his friends to roam at will in the White House. He 
used to smoke corn-cob pipes, which he whittled and bored 
with his own hands. He had a collection of pipes greater than 
has ever been seen in this country outside of a tobacco-shop. 
There was wine always on his table. He cracked hickory-nuts 
on a hand-iron upon his knee. The cold-blooded and impene- 
trable Van Buren he called " Matty," as if Mr. Johnson should 
address Mr. Seward as " Little Bill." He drove all sorts of 
odd coaches, had street fights, behaved like the incomprehen- 
sibly despotic old patriot that he was ; but the people always 
stood by him, because the people were about as bad as he was. 
He kept the city in dreadful fear ; all his friends were duelists 
and office-grabbers, desperate with thirst and low origin. Jack- 
son turned 2,000 people out of office in the first year of his 
reign. Prior to that time only seventy-three removals had 
been made in nearly half a century. Said one of Jackson's 
most intimate friends : 

"Our republic, henceforth, will be governed by factions, and 
the struggle will be, who shall get the offices and their emolu- 
ments — a struggle embittered by the most base and sordid pas- 
sions of the human heart." 

After the First Andrew had retired from the Presidency, he 
wrote to a Nashville newspaper in 1840, of Henry Clay : 


" How contemptible does this demagogue appear when he 
descends from his high place in the Senate, and roams over the 
country retailing slanders against the living and the dead." 

Jackson also encouraged Sam Houston to waylay and brutally 
beat Congressman William Stanberry, of Ohio, for words spoken 
in debate, saying : "After a few more examples of the same 
kind, members of Congress will learn to keep civil tongues in 
their heads." He also pardoned Houston when the latter had 
been fined by a District of Columbia court for the same act. 

When the First Andrew left the White House with a farewell 
address, the New York American said : " Happily it is the last 
humbug which the mischievous popularity of this illiterate, vio- 
lent, vain and iron-willed soldier can impose upon a confiding 
and credulous people." Jackson returned home to Tennessee 
with just ninety dollars in money, having expended all his sal- 
ary and all the proceeds of his cotton crop. He was then an 
even seventy years of age, racked with pains, rheums, and pas- 
sions, a poor life to pilot by. 

Jackson kept two forks beside the plate of every guest, one 
of steel, another of silver, as he always ate, himself, with a 
steel fork. I have found in a sketch-book this picture of the 
White House as he was seen in it at his best : 

" A large parlor, scantily furnished, lighted from above by a 
chandelier ; a bright fire in the grate ; around the fire four or 
five ladies sewing, say Mrs. Donelson, Mrs. Andrew Jackson 
(adopted son's wife), Mrs. Edward Livingston^, &c. • Five or 
six children, from two to seven years of age, playing about the 
room, regardless of documents and work-baskets. At a dis- 
tant end of the apartment, General Jackson, seated in an arm 
chair, wearing a long, loose coat, smoking a long reed pipe, 
with a red Virginia clay bowl (price four cents). A little be- 
hind the President, Edward Livingstone, Secretary of State, 
reading a despatch from the French minister, and the President 
waves his pipe absently at the children to make them play less 

Martin Van Buren, the first of the New York politicians, 



and the political heir of Aaron Burr, was boosted into the 
White House by Jackson, to whom he played parasite for eight 
years, and who rode with him to inauguration. Van Buren's 
wife died in 1818 ; he had four sons ; kept the White House 
clean and decent, but never was heartily beloved. The East 
Room was one cause of his political death, as Ogle, a Pennsyl- 
vania Congressman, described it as a warehouse of luxuries 
bought with the people's money. Ogle mentioned every orna- 
ment and its cost, and the ladies kept all. the items going. Had 
Yan Buren been a married man, they would have " skinned " 
his lady in every dreadful drawing-room in the Union. Hap- 
pily the poor woman was dead. I forgot .to mention, that 
General Jackson's wife died of joy over his election. She was 
a very religious woman, very ignorant, and Jackson's friends 
thought it well that she was never tempted with the White 

The short month of President Harrison in the White House 
is chiefly memorable by his death. His was the first funeral 
ever held in the building. He was sixty-eight years old, a 
magnified physical portrait of William H. Seward, with some- 
thing of the bearing of Henry Clay. A full Major-General 
he had been, and, beloved by almost every one, his graces 
were nearly meek, except as relieved by the remembrance of 
his valor. The power of " hard cider," and " log cabin," 
nick names, while they elected him to the Presidency, also 
put him under a campaign pressure, which, added to the 
crowd of office-seekers who ran him down by day and night, 
quite terminated his life. He took cold seeking the outer 
air for privacy's sake, and diarrhoea carried him away. His 
last words were: "I wish the true principles of the gov- 
ernment carried out. I ask for nothing more !" 

John Tyler was the first President who brought a bride 
into the White House, as he was the first who buried a 
wife from its portal. The dead wife he had married in 
1813, the new one in 1844. He took the oath of office, 
owing to Harrison's dying during the recess of Congress, to 


a District of Columbia Judge. The White House was there- 
fore in a tolerably dull condition all this time, and it im- 
proved very little under General Taylor. Two dead Presi- 
dents, one dead wife, and a widower's wedding are dismal 
stock enough for one house in five years. Tyler approaches 
Johnson in some disagreeable respects. He went back on his 
party, and never recovered good esteem even among traitors to 
the country. 

President Polk suggests something of Johnson in the place of 
birth, North Carolina, and in his place of adoption, Tennessee. 
He was just fifty years old when he took possession of the 
White House. Mrs. Polk was a daughter of Joel Childress, a 
merchant of Tennessee, and a Presbyterian, while the Presi- 
dent inclined toward the Methodists. She made a good host- 
ess and leaves a good name in the old mansion. 

As President Harrison was killed by office-seekers, President 
Taylor was killed by a Fourth of July, — standing out in the hot 
sun, after fourteen months' tenure of office. Taylor made more 
mistakes of etiquette than any other President, not excepting 
Mr. Johnson, but he had a heart. His war horse followed his 
rider's body out- of the White House gate. In those days Jeff 
Davis, son-in-law of the President, came familiarly to the White 
House. Taylor was a good father and a jagged old host. But 
he always meant well. 

Millard" Fillmore, his successor, was by odds the handsomest 
man that ever lived in the building, and also the most elegant. 
He was the American Louis Philippe. His wife died a few 
days after the expiration of his term, and also his daughter. 
Frank Pierce was a winning man, but without any large mag- 
netic graces. He rode horseback every day, unattended, miles 
into the country ; his wife was a perpetual invalid. 

We have now come clos© to the great clash of the rebellion. 
James Buchanan, the ancient news-carrier between Clay and 
Jackson, mounting upon the spiral stairs of office-holding, 
brought for his house-keeper, Hattie Lane, a red-haired, rosy- 
cheeked, buxom Lancaster county lass, not unused to fair 


' JSP 

1 . ^i^SSH^I 



society, and the only drawback to her perfect happiness in the 
White House was the old uncle himself. He bullied small pol- 
iticians who had served him at his own table before his niece, 
but in the sense of outward courtliness, when it suited him, 
there were few such masters of deportment as old Buck him- 
self. He fell, like all Northern dough-faces, into the hands of 
rebel thieves like Floyd, and did their bidding till the powder 
was hot for the match. 

Then came Abraham Lincoln with his ambitious wife. 

Afterward with Mr. Johnson came his invalid lady, and his 
daughters, Mrs. Patterson and the widow Stover. 



pauper's REST. 

On the ninth anniversary of the battle of the first Bull Run, 
I wrote these opening lines at the Robinson House, where the 
hottest battle was concentrated. That day, Sunday, two 
weeks, would have been the exact anniversary of the battle. 
How time flies ! It is a beautiful day, not quite so warm as 
the clay of the battle, and we are all looking at maps and 
eating soft-boiled eggs under Robinson's shed, with old Mrs. 
Robinson looking down on us benevolently. 

" Mrs. Robinson," says one of the ladies, " were you fright- 
ened when you saw they were going to fight a battle round 
your house ? " 

" Dear, dear, honey," says Mrs. Robinson, " I was so 
frightened that I can't tell you anything about it. 'Feared 
like I had done so many sins, they sent all their armies after 
me a purpose, that blessed Sabbath day. I jest got in the 
cellar and prayed, and the ole man he got under a bridge, and 
I 'spcct he prayed too. Thank the Lord for these bright, 
still Sundays now-a-days !" 

The old road to Bull Run. We paid twenty-five dollars for 
a fine, solid; showy team and two horses, and left Washington 
with four persons — one of us acting as driver — on Saturday 
afternoon at four o'clock. Country roads of a fair sort led us 
by Ball's Cross Roads, Upton Hill, Falls Church, and across 
the shallow branches of the Accotink to Fairfax Court House — 



fully eighteen miles — where we put up for the night at the 
clean and not expensive tavern of Major Tyler, a cousin of 
the deceased President John Tyler, and formerly Commandant 
of Marines at Washington Barracks. 

Tyler is a thick-set, peculiar man, with big ears and small 
eyes and mouth, and a disposition to be amiable and lordly 
together. Altogether a man capable of furnishing good 
waffles, Maryland biscuit, and delicious slappers, with spring 
chickens and fresh eggs, and he keeps a cellar full of clear 
ice. The rest we produce from the carriage box, and, after 
supper, sitting on the upper veranda, we look down at the 
two little country stores, at the " chivs " talking about 
Governor Walker and Underwood, at the hard gravelly turn- 
pike up which Tompkins made that absurdly interesting raid, 
and at the brick court-house across the way, with freshly- 
cemented loop holes in the sides and gable, where George 
Washington's will is kept. The air is cool as early spring, 
and the moonlight makes a wondrous effect in this Virginia 
country, shining up the white streamers of the woods, tinging 
the woods, making rivers and bays of the clouds, so that every 
star breaking through seems to be the lamp set in a ship that 
rides there. 

" This is five hundred feet higher than Washington," says 
Major Tyler, it's the dividing ridge between the Accotink and 
the Occoquan. They set the court-house here wisely." 

" What brought you here, Major ? " 

" I had to do something, sir. I was a dishonored man if I 
did not give my services to my State. I put all my money — 
$36,000 — in Confederate securities, and left a place where I 
had been all my years of manhood. My property in Washing- 
ton is confiscated, and John Defrees, who bought it, makes me 
pay its taxes, and has, besides, insured my life, to protect 
himself in the property." 

Centreville is one of the most ruined of all hamlets. There 
were originally about thirty houses in it, a majority of which 
are now mere chimneys, standing erect among weeds, and 


several of the houses which remain have been patched up with 
logs and planks, so that what stands is, if possible, more 
forbidding than what is destroyed. At present the only signs 
of life about Centreville seem to be one store, one shop, one 
new church, and one Methodist Sunday-school. There is no 
tavern in the place, and there seem to be no wells of water 
in the vicinity, and all the water is pulled from the branch, a 
half-dry arm of Bull Run. The site of Centreville is one of 
the noblest in Virginia, standing upon the tall spine of a long, 
crescent-shaped ridge, which bristles with dry forts along its 
whole profile, and makes against the sky a battlemented 
horizon, which might almost give suggestions to an architect. 
Seven different roads meet at Centreville, and in revived times 
it ought to be a busy place. 

One naturally expects, as he approaches a celebrated field 
soon after the event which commemorates . it, that he will 
observe many vestiges of the action. There are but two 
battle fields I have seen which bear out this character — 
Waterloo, where the loop-holed brick walls of the orchard 
remain as they were on the day of the fight, as well as the 
blackened ruins of the Chateau of Hougonmont.- The other 
battle-field is Bull Run, which is full of ruin, and the signs 
of ruin begin from the time you quit Fairfax Court-house, 
following the path of the Northern Army. In the first place, 
there is Fairfax itself, partly pulled down ; the Court-house, 
Which was loop-holed during three-fourths of the war, still 
showing the fresh bricks in it; the Jail, also loop-holed, and 
just on the outskirts of Fairfax a few bricks are lying upon 
each other to tell where existed the hamlet of Germantown. 

About a mile past Fairfax, the good turnpike runs off to 
Chantilly, the scene of Pope's final defeat, where Stevens and 
Kearney gave up their lives. Leaving this turnpike, our 
carriage descended into what is, above -all other highways 
known to man, a road to ruin — the road to Centreville. A 
forbidding and lonesome look marks this wide road from a far 
distance. Like all the old turnpikes of Virginia, it had been 


built in a staunch manner, with a hard, high limestone pave- 
ment in the middle of it : some of the stones white, and some 
red, but all large, hard, and set up endways ; and, formerly, 
this rampart of rock was covered with clay, sand, and gravel, 
so that it made the broad area of the road level and like a 
parade. Now the material part of the road in the centre has 
been washed free of all the gravel and the clay, so that it 
looks like -the naked skeleton of a blasted highway, the bones 
of a road once merry with life, and tinkling with teams. The 
only way to travel it at all was to take the side-paths, or what 
are called here the Summer roads, which sometimes run 
pleasantly for little skips, and then suddenly come to little 
•promontories of trap rock and outcropping limestone, at which 
we could see the ladies looking alarmed from a distance, and 
nervously holding tight their seats. This lonely, this desolate, 
this battle-accursed road runs from Fairfax almost due west 
for thirteen miles, passing through Centreville, and a short 
distance from Stone Bridge it is barred across its whole length 
by rails, for Stone Bridge is still a ruin after* five years of 
peace, and all wagons have to take to the fields, making a 
long detour, and fording Bull Run at a point where the long, 
aged, gnarled roots of the oaks, elms, and hemlocks form a 
Dantesque bank against the ford, while the other is a dark, 
succulent and snaky copse, with swamps, grape vines, and 
wild mixtures of dogwood, willow, and Virginia creepers. 
Through this defile, worthy of the pencil of Salvator Rosa, our 
city-made carriage moved like a London snob hunting in a 
Bungalee jungle, and directly we plunged to the hubs into 
Bull Run, a pretty stream of a reddish gray color, inclined to be 
muddy, with swampy banks, and crops of corn growing closely 
up to the margin. Below and above, the stream made an 
aisle of black light under the arch of the trees, and in the 
current grew bunches of duck-w T eeds, blue-stalked flags, and 
other aquatic leaves, the appearance of which indicated snakes 
beneath them. We made another long detour on the other 
side, and came to a pair of bars, which again admitted us to 


the turnpike, and here we made inquiries at the Van Pelt 
House, and then retreated, over the track taken by Tyler's 
division, to the celebrated stone bridge. The turnpike was 
grown up into long green grass, and before we got to the 
bridge we saw a snake wriggle off before the horses' hoofs. 
Close by the bridge we took the horses out of their harness, 
descended beneath the abutments of the bridge, spread shawls 
for the ladies, and proceeded ourselves to cross the. stream by 
certain stones and fish-boxes which span it. We had no 
sooner put our feet on the first stones than three black water- 
snakes dropped noiselessly into the water, and swam away. A 
black boy coining by told us that the stone bridge had become 
a spot where you are always sure to see snakes, and that 
sometimes they lie up on the tall red abutments, and throw 
themselves with a lifeless plash into the water. 

I sat .by the single arch of red limestone — broken, grass- 
covered, the parapets of the approaches overgrown — and heard 
the dark water, sing and curdle along under the natural 
ledges of rock, and saw the turnpike, barred by worm-fences 
and deep with grass, where once, in times of peace, the young 
men rode courting, the buggies rolled to church, the runaway 
negroes slipped Northward by night, the cattle and sheep 
limped in dusty groves to slaughter, and finally, where great 
guns rumbled, and the troops stacked arms to rest, and 
thought of death close by. All these images were faint by the 
light of this highway of desolation, and these appealing abut- 
ments stretching toward each other, and seeking to span the 
river. What a little stream to be known round the world — 
fordable every few rods, not above sixty feet wide — yet, withal, 
a stream of dignity and austerity ! The timber that grew 
along the half morasses here and there upon its borders, was 
high and branching ; the morasses themselves were full of 
'rank grass, and the movement of the water was sullen and 
dull, as if it loved to tarry in the dark pools and drew back 
from the light. To left and right the woods closed in upon 
the visitor, and over these tree tops careened the tall hills, 

BULL EUN. 213 

with but one house in sight, and a vague suggestion besides 
of Robinson's shanty in some huddling fruit trees, which 
carried a human intimation. Looking back toward Centre- 
ville from the bridge, a group of negro quarters and a small 
house stood on one side in an out-field, and a new negro hut, 
solitary in a cornfield, on the other, both backed by wood. 
Down this road the half- willing troops of Tyler had moved at 
daylight, blocking up the way, delaying Hunter's men, and 
these last had finally reappeared across the bridge, their 
advance measured by the clouds of dust, which were denser 
and higher than the cannons' smoke. 

We followed up this turnpike to where the Ludley Ford 
road crossed it at right angles, down which, marching South- 
ward, the flanking division of Hunter came, and by the white 
cabin of Matthews it unfolded from column to line, stretching 
three-quarters of a mile, and staking a fringe of skirmishers to 
the front. All the forenoon the contest was to carry the turn- 
pike, and release the divisions behind the stone bridge. By 
beating Evans and Bee this much was accomplished, and then 
the battle was transferred to the other end of the turnpike, 
where one long, oval hill, the promontory of a high plateau, 
stretched from the turnpike to the Ludley road, and on this 
exalted cape the first armies of civil war fought. What was 
the» real battle of Bull Run was on a space of ground not above 
two hundred acres in a,rea. The shape of this hill is defined 
by two rivulets tributary to Bull Run : that in front called 
Young's Branch, which twice crosses the turnpike, once at 
the cross roads, and again nearer Bull Run, crossed in the 
latter case by a small wooden bridge. The back side of the 
hill is cQvered with small wild timber, oak and pine, which 
leave the summit and the slopes toward the roads nearly bare. 
Upon the bare parts the fiercest battle raged for three hours 
around two small common farm houses — Robinson's, nearest 
Bull Run, and Henry's, near by the Ludley road. The 
Federal troops were strongest,, along the latter half-sunken 
country road, and they formed a line of battle like a carpenter's 


square, while the rebels made a line like a crescent in the 
edge of the low woods, which half covered their battalions. 
The length of the line of battle was about half a mile, or less, 
and the Confederate batteries were massed on their right, and 
the Federal batteries on their own right, respectively. Upon 
this small oval summit a fight as desperate as any of the war 
took place, fiercest around the shanty called the Henry House, 
confined almost entirely to musketry and artillery, and the 
hottest contests for the batteries, whose horses had been 
quickly killed. 

At present, this hill is marked with a few gulleys, where the 
rains have washed, and by many excavated pits where the dead 
have been disinterred. The country for many miles hereabout 
is plainly revealed, the monument at Groveton, on the second 
battle-field of Bull Run, showing distinctly, and Manassas Junc- 
tion, a fine white village, five miles away, is seen through a 
fissure in the timber. 

I ascertained these facts about the persons who occupied the 
dwellings on the battle-field of the first Bull Run ; the first 
house on the Warrenton turnpike, to the right hand, after 
passing the stone bridge, is occupied by Mr. Donahue, who 
lives in the house of the widow Van Pelt. 

This house is a pleasant frame dwelling, surrounded by tall 
and umbrageous trees, and it was the only house in sight from 
the stone bridge, on the day of the battle. All the buildings 
stand, though the barn was shelled through and through, but 
on this particular farm no fighting was done, yet across it hun- 
dreds of troops retreated, to re-cross Bull Run. 

The second house to the right is that of Gus. Van Pelt, in 
which Bob Paine now lives; this house shows, marks of .the 
fight, and the farm was well fought over on the morning of the 

The third house on the right of the turnpike is a very pecu- 
liar one, and no man who figured in that action can well forget 
it. It is a large, oblong, red lime-stone house, built of large 
blocks, and it stands nearly at the junction of the Ludley road. 
It is owned by Mr. Starbuck, who was a sutler in the Federal 


army, and, who, true to his army instincts, keeps a house e's 
entertainment there now. This house was well-riddled in the 
battle with shell and ball, and was set on fire sometime during 
the day, but the neighbors, in a very neighborly manner, over- 
came their fear so far as to rush in and put the fire out. All 
accounts, even the most moderate, agree that the Northern 
troops put the highest construction on the crime of treason, on 
the day of the battle of Bull Run, and set fire to whatever 
would burn. 

Turning to the left of the turnpike, the first place beyond the 
stone bridge is the celebrated Jim Robinson's farm, which was 
©ne of the centres of the elliptical battle of the afternoon — the 
other centre being a farm of the widow Henry, just to the right 
of it, a quater of a mile. 

Our party made an impromptu dinner in the cool lawn before 
Jim Robinson's house ; for Jim is a venerable free negro who 
owns his own farm and the house, and his regular business is 
keeping drove cattle, and fattening them, on their road to 
Washington, but since the battle of Bull Run, he also furnishes 
fresh eggs, salt pork, fresh milk,, and occasionally a spring 
chicken, for any visitors willing to pay for such luxuries. We 
gave Robinson about eighteen and three quarters cents a head 
for a very excellent lunch, and had our horses fed for a quarter 
a head. He had just built an aristocratic extension to his log 
cabin, consisting of a two-story plank structure, still in the 
hands of the carpenter. The old house is marked in fifty places 
with Minie balls, and Robinson's sons have collected a large 
coffee-pot full of canister, bullets, and conical balls, and they 
have half a barrel of grape, and bits of shell and rifle projectiles, 
plowed up in the fields. Robinson is a conservative Republican, 
and his eldest son who was a servant to General Beauregard 
during the war, said to me : 

" Most all the colored people are Republicans, although a few, 
who know no better, have been coaxed over to the Democracy. 
We are not violent party men, sir — father and his sons — but 
we think that for the present, our interest lies that way. They 


sere a Union League down at Manassas, but I reckon it is a 
sort of playing out," 

The Robinsons, in fact, are rather opinionated and exclusive 
colored folks, having been born free, and the old man has a 
wonderful way of parading large and philosophic terras, his 
ignorance of which is so well covered by a benignant and plausible, 
manner, that one listens with a mixture of humor and awe. 
During the battle, old Robinson hid under a bridge beneath the 
turnpike road, where he says there were about fifty of his 
neighbors, white and black, making a mottled and shivering 
democracy. His son went over to the Lewis house, then known 
by the name of " Portico" — every Virginian capable of living 
between two chimneys, dignifying his estate with a memorial 
title. The Lewis house was the headquarters of both Beaure- 
gard and of Johnston ; it stood on a round hill about a mile 
back of the Robinson and Henry houses, and was surrounded 
with ancient shade trees, and with orchards. From this point 
the operations of the battle were mainly conducted. Lewis 
acted as a sort of guide to the Confederate army, during much 
of the war, for he had a thorough knowledge of the streams, 
nooks, bridges, and cattle-paths in all this region. ' His house 
stood until the day of the second battle of Bull Run, when some 
Federal camp-followers set it on fire, and burnt it to the ground. 
"We saw Lewis and his family returning from church as we 
entered Robinson's place, and, mounted on a frisky young sorrel 
colt, he politely opened and shut the gate for us. His daughters 
and sons all rode horses, and it was interesting to see that two 
girls rode one horse, the girl behind having no saddle. Lewis 
is a sandy-haired, sandy-bearded man of middle age, and of 
quick, nervous temperament. 

Ed. Carter, (pronounced all through Virginia as Kyarter), 
lives on a part of the battle field, and like everybody else in that 
region, is scarcely able to make a living. 

I walked from Robinson's to the widow Henry's, over a 
part of the field where the most terrific fighting happened, 
passing the spot where the two rebel Generals, Bee and Barton, 


were struck dead. A block of marble was set up to Bee's 
memory, after the first battle of Bull Run, but when Joe John- 
ston deserted Manassas, in the spring of 1862, Northern soldiers 
cracked the stone to pieces, and carried off the chips for relics. 
Bee was an able officer, raised by the United States, and it was 
he who gave the name of " Stonewall" to Thomas Jonathan 
Jackson, as the latter came to his support in the action. 
" There stands Jackson," he said, " like a stone wall." 
As we approached the Henry house, we saw a woman, dressed 
in black, picking flowers in the fields. She was the daughter 
of the widow Henry, who suffered a cruel death in her own 
house. She was aged and an invalid, and when the battle sud- 
denly surged up to her house, her children sought safety in 
various places and left the old woman in bed. The full hurri- 
cane of the action burst right ro*und this old shanty, an.d the 
unfortunate woman was cut all to pieces with shell, ball, and 
bullets, and the house itself was torn to flinders ; they could 
scarcely recognize her body after the fury of the fight was over. 
The Henry house is now replaced by a small frame building 
painted blue, with end chimneys outside, and in the yard of this 
dwelling stands in the open sun a small monument made of red 
limestone, from the banks of the Bull Run, two miles away ; the 
monument is about sixteen feet high, and is capped with a large 
rifle projectile, while round the corners of the base four other 
cones of stone and exploded shell are raised, the wli3le edifice 
standing upon a mound of sod which has given way, so that it is 
probable the whole thing will tumble down in a few years. A 
white stone says in crudely carved letters, " Honor to the 
patriot dead !" But round the monument' are neat little wooden 
signs on each of the four sides, which tell the story of the sur- 
roundings. One says .that near that spot were captured parts 
of Griffin's, Rickett's, and other batteries. Another sign says 
that Stonewall Jackson was wounded hard-by, and that here he 
got his historic appellation. The fourth sign says that twenty- 
four Federal soldiers lie beneath. The monument is leaning, 
from defective foundations, and will soon tumble down. 


The number of people lost in this battle attests, and by its 
equality as well, that it was a well maintained conflict. The 
rebel killed and wounded numbered 1,857, one-fifth of them 
slain. The Federal killed and wounded were 1,492, one-third 
slain. These official figures are probably too low on both sides. 
About one thousand persons gave up the ghost on this field. 
The Federal loss in all was ten cannons captured, besides seven- 
teen others abandoned, and 4,000 muskets thrown away. Nearly 
one-third of the men afterward prominent in bofli armies, 
fought iii'the first battle of Bull Run, as subordinate officers. 

Nine years after this battle has happened, we begin to feel 
that we walk upon the solid ground, in estimating its heroes 
and its importance. 

In the first place, we have learned to estimate the character 
of McDowell, who planned 'this battle with a cool, wise head, 
and fought it out upon this plan according to the best advan- 
tage he could make of the material that lay at his command. 
No other battle during the whole war was better devised, and 
none in the East, fought on the offensive, during the next three 
years, had more nearly been successful. The Federal Comman- 
der was assailed for the folly of his troops here as few comman- 
ders have ever been, and yet he kept up heart, stood patiently 
by the cause, took a third-rate place under McClellan with 
generous resignation, and gave all the successive men placed 
over him hearty support, and since the death of George IT. 
Thomas, it is safe to say there is no man in the United States 
upon whom we can rely for judgment, for devotion, for willing- 
ness to suffer above the common fate of all who suffered then, 
more than Irving McDowell. 

Last winter, when the Army of the Potomac met at Phila- 
delphia, and McDowell sat quietly amongst them, thinking him- 
self an unsuccessful man, and one set down amongst the failures 
of the war, a quiet young officer arose with his glass in his hand, 
and proposed the health of General McDowell. As he did so, 
he made a stammering effort to say that since the war had 
passed by, and we had come to know mail for man, and man 


to man, we were equal to the appreciation of the Commander 
of the first Army of the Potomac. At once the whole table 
rattled with bravos and hearty cheers, and amidst more applause 
than had greeted the name of any man that night, McDowell 
rose, profoundly moved, the most patient and heroic martyr 
of the war, and he said as he always had said, that he knew 
the justice of his countrymen would come at last ; that he had 
expected it long before, but that he had not complained, because 
he knew that it would come ; and then his cold, regular army 
nature melting down to the occasion, he gave a little burst of 
egotism which was truer than tears, because it was both the 
occasion and himself. 

We reached home after midnight on the seccmd day, after a 
ride of fifty-six miles in sixteen hours. There were a good 
many old shoes and tin cups-on the way, and a bridge of preca- 
rious fence-rails crosses Cub Run. 

I climbed the high hills one day on the other side, and push- 
ing up by-paths through bramble and laurel, gained the ram- 
parts of old Fort Stanton. 

How old already seem those fortresses, drawing their amphi- 
theatre around the Capital city ! Here the scarf had fallen off 
in places ; the abatis had been wrenched out for firewood ; even 
the solid log platforms, where late the great guns stood on tip- 
toe, had yielded to the farmer's lever, and made, perhaps, joists 
for his barn, and piles for his bridge. The solid stone portals 
opening into bomb-proof and magazine, still remained strong 
and mortised, but down in the battery and dark subterranean 
quarters the smell was rank, the floor was full of mushrooms ; 
a dog had littered in the innermost powder magazine, and 
showed her fangs as I held a lighted match before me advanc- 
ing. Still the old names and numbers were painted upon the 
huge doorways beneath the inner parapet : " Officers quarters, 
21," " Mess, 12," " Cartridge Box, 7." But around the slopes 
of the fort, among the bush and in the laurel clearing free 
negroes had built their cabins out of the wrecks of battery wag- 
on and sentry-box, and down the paths that the cannoniers had 


made in the moist hill sides, negro men and women, with pails 
and bundles on their heads, went jogging steadily, as in the 
first listless experience of self-ownership. 

What a picturesque and stirring crime is war ! Suggestively 
useless are the monuments it leaves, but touching the imagina- 
tion far more than the lordliest architectures of peace. Now 
do we feel among these shriveled moats and salients that the 
Capital city of our country has some surroundings to make it an 
inspiration. These wrecks of its defences will be some day the 
picnic haunts of curious patriotism, when Washington has grown 
to be a great city. Greater than its founders ever wished ! 

I climbed upon the windiest corner of the rampart and looked 
down at the town. Its site is a noble one, — a bowlder bottom, 
it seemed to be, like the green meadows of those ancient 
salt esftiaries in Holland, where the lambs play in the caverns 
of the fishes. Sloping up from the huddle of the city, the 
landscape stretched into far spines and capes of lofty wood- 
land, and amidst them the dome of the Capitol crouched merely, 
as if driven into the ground. At my feet the navy yard lay, 
very silent, surrounded by its monitors and men-of-war ; over 
the ravine of road behind me Booth galloped with his ghost on 
that Good Friday night ; beyond the bridge he had crossed, 
the little, lonely cemetery of Congress lay on the river bank. 
I could make out the Treasury and the Capitol, like two towers 
of a great suspension bridge, and Washington city swung be- 
tween them, like a great drove of speckled cattle crossing 
between the cables. It is impossible that this city slaall not be 
a beautiful and respected one. But the curse of it and the 
country is the infamous system «of rotation in office, whereby 
our Capital is peopled with periodicald roves of hungry adven- 
turers, who expect to steal a patrimony in four years. 

About twenty thousand acres of wood land were felled around 
Washington to give play for the artillery of the forts. The 
fifty-six forts mounted from ten to fifty guns each ; the batteries 
from three to twelve, making between eight and nine hundred 
guns in all. These were connected by rifle pits seven feet high, 


and Alexandria's military road passed in from the rear of all 
these works through valley parts to conceal the movements of 

A stranger in Washington looking down the wide outer ave- 
nue, named " Massachusetts," which goes bowling from knoll to 
knoll and disappears in the unknown hills of the East, has no 
notion that it leads anywhere, and gives up the conundrum. 
On the contrary it points straight to the Washington Asylum, 
better known as the District Poor-house, an institution to 
become hereafter conspicuous to every tourist who shall prefer 
the Baltimore and Potomac, to the Baltimore and Ohio rail- 
road ; for the new line crosses the Eastern Branch by a pile- 
bridge nearly in the rear of the poor-house, and let us hope 
that when the whistle, like 

" the pibroch's music thrills 

To the heart of those lone hills," 

the dreary banks and bluffs of the Eastern Branch will show 
more frequent signs of habitation and visitation. 

To visit the Poor-House one must have a "permit" from the 
mayor, physician, or a poor commissioner. Provided with this, 
he will follow out Pennsylvani Aavenue over Capitol Hill, until 
nearly at the brink of the Anacostia or Eastern Branch, when 
by the oblique Avenue called " Georgia" he will pass to his 
right the Congressional burying ground, and arriving at the 
powder magazine in front, draw up at the alms-house gate, a 
mile and a quarter from the palace of Congress. 

*The line of earth forts built to defend Washington city in the Summer, Fall and 
early Winter of 1861 was reported on the seventh of December of that year by 
Chief Engineer Barnard to number forty-eight works, mounting over three hun- 
dred heavy guns : the actual defensive perimeter occupied was about thirty-five 
miles, exceeding the Torres Vedras by several miles, which were previously the 
most extensive. Of these forts several were outside the Columbia line in Mary- 
land, all in Montgomery County, as follows : Fort Sumner, Fort Kirby, Fort Cross, 
Fort Davis : and Fort Mansfield, Fort Bayard and Fort Simmons. The three first 
named covered the Chain Bridge and the riveY side-ways, and were strengthened 
besides by Battery Bailey, Battery Benson and Battery Alexander, as well as by 
a blockhouse looking down the Chain Bridge line. The field batteries of McClel- 
lan's army at, or soon after, this time assembled around Washington, consisted of 
520 guns served by 12,500 men. 


It is a smart brick building, four stories high, with green 
trimmings, standing on the last promontory of some grassy 
commons beloved of geese and billy-goats. The short, black 
cedars, which appear to be a species of vegetable crape, give a 
stubby look of grief to the region round the poorhouse, and 
thickest at the Congressional Cemetery, screen from the paupers 
the view of the city. Across the plains, once made populous 
by army hospitals, few objects move except funeral processions, 
creeping toward the graveyard or receding at a merry gait, 
and occasional pensioners, out on leave, coming home dutifully 
to their bed of charity. The report of some sportsman's gun, 
where he is rowing in the marshes of the gray river, some- 
times raises echoes in the high hills and ravines of the other 
s"hore, where, many years ago, the rifles of Graves and Cilley 
were heard by every partisan in the land. Now the tall forts, 
raised in the war, are silent and deserted ; the few villas and 
farmhouses look from their back-ground of pine upon the 
smart edifice on the city shore, and its circle of hospitals 
nearer the water, and its small-pox hospital a little removed, 
and upon the dead-house and the " Potter's Field," at the rivei 
brink. We all know the melancholy landscape of a poor- 

The Potter's Field preceded the Poor-house on this side by 
many years. The almshouse was formerly erected on M street, 
between Sixth and Seventh, and, being removed here, it burned 
to the ground in the month of March, fourteen years ago, when 
the present brick structure was raised. The entire premises, 
of which the main part is the almshouse garden, occupy less 
than fifty acres, and the number of inmates is less than two 
hundred, the females preponderating in the proportion of three 
to one. Under the same roof are the Almshouse and the Work- 
house, the inmates of the former being styled " Informants," 
and of the latter" Penitents." The government of the Insti- 
tution is vested in three commissioners, to whom is responsible 
the intendent, Mr. Joseph F. Hodgson, a very cheerful and 
practical-looking " Bumble." 


Every "Wednesday the three commissioners meet at this 
Almshouse and receive the weekly reports of the intendent, phy- 
sician, and gardener. Once every year these officers and the 
matron, wagoner, and baker are elected. Sixteen ounces of 
bread and eight ounces of beef are the ration of the district pau- 
per. The turnkey, gate-keeper, chief watchmen, and chief nurses 
are elected from the inmates. The gates are closed at sunset, 
and the lights go out at 8 p.m., all Winter. The inmates wear 
a uniform, labelled in large letters : Work-House or Wash- 
ington Asylum. 

The Poorhouse is an institution coeval with the Capital. 
We are told that while crabbed old Davy Burns, the owner 
of the most valuable part of the site of Washington city, was 
haggling with General Washington over his proportion of lots, 
his neglected and intemperate brother, Tommy, was an inmate 
of the Poorhouse. 

Thus, while the Romulus of the place married his daughter 
to a Congressman, and was buried in a " mausoleum," on H 
street, Remus died without the walls and mingled his ashes, 
perhaps, with paupers. 

The vaunted metropolis of the republican hopes of mankind, 
for such was Washington, the fabulous city, advertised and 
praised in every Capital of Western Europe, drew to its site 
artists, adventurers, and speculators from all lands. From 
Thomas Law, a secretary of Warren Hastings, who wasted the 
earnings of India on enterprises here, to a Frenchmen who died 
on the guillotine for practicing with an infernal machine upon 
the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, the long train of pilgrims 
came, and saw, and despaired, and many of them, perhaps, lie 
in the Potter's Field. Old books and newspapers, chary on 
such personal questions, contain occasional references as to 
some sculptor's suicide, or to the straits of this or that French 
officer, or Claimant about Congress ; and we know that Major 
L'Enfant, who conceived the plan of the place, sought refuge 
with a pitying friend and died here penniless. 

The long war of twenty years in Europe brought to America 


thousands in search of safety and rest, and" to these the mag- 
netism of the word " Capital " was often the song of the 
siren wiling them to the Poor-house. By the time Europe had 
wearied of the sword, the fatality attending high living, large 
slave-tilled estates, the love of official society, and the defective 
education of the young men of tide-water Virginia and Mary- 
land, produced a new class of native-born errants and broken 
profligates, at Washington, and many a life whose memories 
began with a coach and four and a park of deer, ended them 
between the coverlets of a poorhouse bed. The old times were, 
after all, very hollow times ! We are fond of reading about 
the hospitality of the Maclisonian age, but could so many have 
accepted it if all were prosperous ? 

In our time work being the fate and the redemption of us 
all, the District Almshouse contains few government employees. 
Now and then, as Mr. Hodgson told us, some clerk, spent 
with sickness or exhausted by evil indulgences, takes the 
inevitable road across the vacant plains, and eats his pauper 
ration in silence or in resignation, but the age is better, not, 
perhaps, because the heart of man is changed, but in that 
society is organized upon truer principles of honor, of manful- 
ness, and of labor. The class of well-bred young men who are 
ashamed to admit that they must earn their living, and who 
affect the company of gamesters and chicken-fighters, has some 
remnants left amongst us, but they find no aliment in the 
public sentiment, and hear no response in the public tone. 
Duelling is done ; visiting one's relatives as a profession is 
done ; thrift is no more a reproach, and even the reputation 
of being a miser is rather complimentary to a man. The 
worst chapters of humanity in America are those narrating 
the indigence of the old agricultural families on the streams 
of the Chesapeake ; the quarterly sale of a slave to supply, the 
demands of a false understanding of generosity ; the in- 
human revelling of one's friends upon the. last possessions of 
his family, holding it to be a jest to precipitate his ruin ; the 
wild orgies held on the glebe of some old parish church, horses 


hitched to the gravestones, and punch mixed in the baptismal 
font ; and at the last, delirium, impotence, decay ! Let those 
who would understand it read Bishop Meade, or descend the 
Potomac and Rappahannock, even at'this day, and cross certain 

The Washington Poor-house seems to be well arranged, except 
in one respect : under the same roof, divided only by a parti- 
tion and a corridor, the vicious are lodged for punishment 
and the unfortunate tor refuge. 

We passed through a part of the building where, amongst 
old, toothless women, semi-imbecile girls — the relicts of error, 
the heirs of affliction — three babies of one mother were in 
charge of a strong, rosy Irish nurse. Two of them, twins, 
were in her lap, and a third upon the floor, hallooing for joy. 
Such noble specimens of childhood we had never seen ; heads 
like Caesar's, eyes bright as the depths of wells into which one 
laughs and receives his laughter back, and complexions and 
carriage of high birth. The woman was suckling them all, and 
all crowded alternately, so that they made the bare floors and 
walls light up with pictures. A few yards off, though out of 
hearing, were the thick forms of criminals, drunkards, wantons, 
and vagrants, seen through the iron 'bars of their wickets, rais- 
ing the croon and song of an idle din, drumming on the floor, 
or moving to and fro restlessly. Beneath this part of the Alms- • 
house were cells where bad cases were locked up. The asso- 
ciation of the poor and the wicked affected us painfully. 

Strolling into the syphilitic wards, where, in the awful con- 
templation of their daily, piecemeal decay, the silent victims 
were stretched all day upon their cots ; amongst the idiotic 
and the crazed ; into the apartments of the aged poor, seeing, 
let us hope, blessed visions of life beyond these shambles ; and 
drinking in, as we walked, the solemn but needful lessons of 
our own possibilities, and the mutations of our nature, we stood 
at last amongst the graves of the Almshouse dead — those who 
have escaped the dissecting knife. Scattered about with little 
stones and mounds here and there, under the occasional sullen 


green of cedars, a dead-cart and a spade sticking up as sym- 
bols, and the neglected river, deserted as the Styx, plashing 
against the low banks, we felt the sobering melancholy of the 
spot, and made the prayer of " Give me neither poverty nor 
riches !" 





The experience of more than fourscore years has shown that 
many things in our Government need amendment. A great 
many propositions have been made to effect reforms in the 
nature of our Government. Mr. Morton has proposed to abol- 
ish the electoral college; Mr. Robertson to establish a tribu- 
nal which shall' decide questions in the electoral college; Mr. 
Pomeroy to make the States regulate the basis of citizenship 
in their own way; Mr. Drake to empower the federal govern- 
ment to put down disorder in the States ; Mr. Yates to make 
foreign born citizens eligible to the Presidency; Mr. Davis to 
establish a constitutional tribunal of which each State shall 
have one judge to be paid by the State, and not by the Govern- 
ment; Mr. Stewart to compel free schools in each State and 
territory : Mr. Sumner to limit the President to one term and 
abolish the Vice-Presidency ; Mr. Lawrence to choose electors 
by a different system ; Mr. Ingersoll to give Congress the pow- 
er of making United States notes legal tenders ; Mr. Julian to 
enact female suffrage ; Mr. Burdett to forbid States and corpo- 
rations levying taxes for any sectarian purpose ; Mr. Coburn to 
make federal officials elective by the people of the State or 
Territory where they shall reside ; Mr. Potter to stop the char- 
tering of private corporations by Congress ; Mr. Potter also to 



make the President's term six years ; Mr. Coghlan to stop the 
sale of public lands except to actual settlers (lost by §5 to 87) ; 
Mr. King to make amalgamation illegal and to separate the 
races in the public schools ; Mr. McNealy to stop import and 
excise duties and to raise revenue by direct taxation; Mr. 
Morgan to make naturalized citizens eligible for President and 
Vice-President (81 yeas, 65 nays, lost) ; Mr. Comingo to ad- 
mit no State which does not contain a full representative pop- 
ulation ; Mr. McCrary to elect Postmasters and make all offices 
hold for four years and be removable by the President only for 
bad morals ; Mr. Snapp to make judges of the Supreme Court 
non-eligible for the Presidency; Mr. Mclntyre to give the 
Supreme Court original and enlarged appellate jurisdiction ; 
Mr. Parker to make Senators and Members non-eligible for the 
Presidency; Mr. Hawley to make Senators elective by the 
people ; Mr. Jones to give territorial delegates all the rights of 
Congressmen and to enact female suffrage. 

In addition to all these proposed amendments, a natural 
religious association of which a judge of the Supreme Court is a 
member, wants "Almighty God and the Lord Jesus Christ" 
violently inserted into the preamble to the constitution "after 
the words, "We the people of the United States." It is ap- 
prehended that in this way we shall become immediately a 
Christian Government. 

The happiest accident since the close of the War has been 
the Credit' Mobilier exposure. It has tumbled some hollow 
effigies of reputation, and proved that eminent success cannot 
cure a lying tongue, nor ennoble sinister character. But, in the 
moral needs of a nation, the unworthy must go, and not the 
exposure, but the concealment, of their crimes is the sign of 
disease. It is better to see the purloiner and the pirate on the 
gibbet of public opinion, instead of blandly plying their craft 
in the security of eminence. 

About this period it would be timely for some of those old- 
fashioned sermons on the driving of peddlers out of the Tem- 
ple, — particularly the peddlers who sold doves, the soft and 


cooing kind of chaps, who disguised the trade in the innocence 
of the commodity: sleek and harmless little Credit Mobilier. 

The exposure of thieves is a good sign. 

It is the first step to health, and its effects have been already 
extroradinary. The franking fraud has been abolished; the 
Steamship-Subsidy bill to Australia, — a mere grab in the name 
of a trade which sailing ships only can do with profit, — has 
failed ; the Goat Island plunder has been repudiated by the 
very Congress which had previously passed it; the Cotton-Tax 
Refunding bill has perished ; Pomeroy has been pitched out of 
the Senate ; Caldwell, Clayton, Pinchback, Carolina Patterson, 
and some others will go out, or the Senate itself will know the 
sentiment of this country by other than newspaper-leaders. 
Finally, Oliver P. Morton has advocated the abolition of the 
Electoral College, and — mirabile dictu! Mr. Harlan has pro- 
posed the election of Senators by the people. He knows how 
it is himself, since he got -$30,000 railway money to elect him- 
self. Out of the fullness of the conscience and the efficacy of 
exposure, the mouth speaketh ! 

In the Senate of the United States, Jan. 31, 1873, Mr. Harlan asked, and, 
by unanimous consent, obtained, leave to bring in the following joint reso- 
lution ; which was read twice and ordered to be printed : 

Joint Resolution Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of the 
United States. 

Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States 
of America in Congress Assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring 
therein), That the following article be proposed to the Legislatures of the 
several States as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, 
which, when ratified by three fourths of said Legislatures, shall be valid as 
part of the Constitution, namely : 


Section 1. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two 
Senators from each State, chosen by the people of the several States for six 
years ; and the electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite 
for electors of the most numerous branch of the State Legislature ; and, if 
vacancies happen by resignation, or otherwise, in the Senatorial represent- 
ation from any State, the Executive authority thereof shall issue writs of 
election to fill such vacancies. 


It may appear impossible to secure a two-thirds vote in the 
Senate for the proposition of an amendment which will burn 
the ships behind many of the corsairs and conquistadores there. 
But knaves slouch along in the wake of upright people, even 
in the Senate, and vigorous agitation of the subject, and its 
espousal by the abler men of that body, will silence the tongue 
of him whose unworthiness will be admitted by the act of 
opposition. The Senate of the United States was originally 
designed to reflect the selected sentiment of the wisest electors 
in each State, — the Legislatures. It was supposed that the 
hearty emulation of the States would keep high, and apart 
from party management and momentary passion, the exalted 
offices of these censors upon more popular legislation ; that the 
length of the term of Senator would ordinarily survive the 
duration of a party ; and that a body of grave and reflecting 
men, unusually versed in affairs, would bridge over Adminis- 
trations and party periods, and, never expiring, prolong an 
aristocracy of intellect, experience, and calm demeanor. Such 
was the beautiful conception of the Senate. 

In the course of time, the Senate has come to be the chief 
object of political conspiracy, and in every State the Governor- 
ship is prostituted to obtain it, — men walking over their oaths 
and sense of Commonwealth duty to bound into, the Senate, 
and stay there two years longer than the President can keep 
his office. 

The voting constituency of a State like Pennsylvania is re- 
duced from hundreds of thousands to hundreds, in order that 
a man may spend a lifetime in the Senate, who could never be 
elected Governor, and against whose name a resolution of cen- 
sure and disgrace is recorded on the Journal of the House of 

The Senate, in its present organization, is suggestive of the 
steady decline of its manhood and conduct. 

The presiding officer of the Senate, Schuyler Colfax, the 
Vice-President, has solicited an inquiry into his character on 
the charges of corruption and perjury, which were refused by 


the Senate on the ground that impeachment was the only 
method to reach him, and it was how too late to adopt that, 
because, although the presiding officer might have been inter- 
ested in jobbery for the whole period of his term, he was soon 
to retire to private life, after declinations too numerous to men- 
tion. And how could a man remember his Credit Mobilier 
stock who had so often forgotten to retire at the time he. prom- 
ised ? 

The predecessor of Schuyler Colfax in the Senate, B. F. 
Wade, had promised to divide the raiment of his country, had 
he been made President, amongst such people as E. B. Ward, 
John Conness, and other drovers. He missed the Presidency 
by the votes of Lyman Trumbull and others, and has since been 
riding oxen, in a congenial way, through the jobbing pastures 
of Santo Domingo. 

The successor of Schuyler Colfax, Henry Wilson, has just 
escaped the Credit Mobilier implication by such a close shave 
that we hope it will steady him up for the next four years, and 
that certain of the angels will have charge concerning him, 
lest at any time, while uttering a platitude, he dash his foot 
against a stone. 

The President of the caucus, and vice-presiding officer went 
about the city, saying that there is nothing in Caldwell's case 
requiring the Senate to take any action, — thereby exonerating 
bribery. He is an unblushing defender of every man who took 
the Credit Mobilier stock. 

The Executive clerk of the Senate is a carpet-bagger, for- 
merly a clergyman, who is a publisher of a journal in this city 
of which the Washington Herald spoke as follows last week : 
" How can we expect honesty in public life when a Senator 
(Harlan), the Executive Clerk of the Senate (Morris), and 
the Paymaster's Department of the Army (?) unite to publish 
a journal at the Capitol defending every exposed rascal of Con- 
gress." The paper thus spoken of is now defending Pomeroy, 
who, perhaps, has an interest in it. 

There are about twenty Senators who fill the full measure 


of their station, and these could be even more readily elected 
by the people than by the State Legislatures. Of these, four, 
and possibly five, are from New England, four from the Middle 
States, seven from the Western States, and five from the 
Southern States. The House of Representatives contains two- 
fold the average talent and character of the Senate. 

In the year 1862, John C. Breckinridge, Jesse D. Bright, 
and Trusten. Polk were expelled from the Senate ; but their 
offence of treason, then general with an entire section, exon- 
erates them from the more contemptible charges rife at this 

The Senators of Rome were forbidden to engage in commer- 
cial pursuits, and that great body kept its character for a long 
period, until Sylla, Caesar, and other ambitious captains made 
it an instrument ; and, at last, one of the Caldwells of that 
period, a certain Senator Didius Julianus, bought the Imperial 
crown for about two hundred pounds sterling per vote, or 6,250 

The life, antecedents, and reign of Didius Julianus present 
an opportunity for parallel readings. 

Mr. Julianus was a good trader, and his commercial word 
was good. For a business man, he was of the frankest nature. 
His checks, when he bought an office, were promptly paid, and, 
like men now-a-days, he thought it was of no consequence what 
the line of business was, provided you could get into it. 

• The Praetorian Guard, otherwise the Kansas Legislature, 
had cut off the head of Pertinax Ross, the Emperor, for voting 
not guilty on the trial of Andrew Johnson, Sulpicianus (or 
Sidney Clark) began to treat for the Imperial dignity, but he 
demanded the office by right of party fealty and performance, 
and said too little on the important subject of a quid pro quo. 
At this announcement, " His freedmen and his parasites," says 
one of the newspaper authorities of his time, " easily convinced 
Julianus that he deserved the throne, and earnestly conjured 
him to embrace so fortunate an opportunity." This picture 
does not seem to smack of antiquity, but to be a plain passage 
in Kansas politics. 


Didius Julianus was indulging himself in the luxury of the 
table when he heard that the purple was for sale. He took out 
his lead-pencil, and made a computation as to how much the 
prize would cost, and what the opportunities were for a trade 
in the office. He bid against Sulpicianus at the foot of the 
ramparts, — we had almost said in the town of Topeka ; and at 
$1,000 in gold per man,— a sum, considering the increase of 
money, not widely different from Topeka' s prices, — he knocked 
off the crown. 

He then made a speech couched in the Pomeroy vein. He 
expatiated on the freedom of his election, his own eminent vir- 
tues, and his full assurance of the affections of the Senate. 
The Senate voted him a golden statue, but, with that remark- 
able sagacity which only a business Senator can possess, Juli- 
anus remarked that " he preferred one of brass as more lasting; 
for he had always observed that the statues of former Emperors 
were soon, destroyed, and those of brass alone remained, not 
being worth destruction." If the above were signed " Gath," 
instead of Edward Gibbon, the loyal party press would go for 
it ; but the chief practical difference is, that the latter wrote 
about a nation destroyed by its corruption, which might have 
been arrested had it possessed such an historian, and been 
aroused by his depictions of those evil days. 

There was indignation throughout the Roman Empire, but 
the Senate alone, whose conspicuous station and ample posses- 
sions exacted the strictest caution, dissembled their sentiments, 
and met the affected civility of Julianus with smiles of compla- 
cency. This is a good piece of sculpture of a Senate to this 
day, — the difference being that Didius dealt with Conscript 
Fathers, and Caldwell with Bankscrip Fathers. 

The army, however, concluded to take Julianus in hand, par- 
ticularly after its General, Septimius Severus, — a native of 
Africa, and doubtless a progenitor of Senator Pinchback, — 
had offered every soldier X400 to investigate Julianus with a 
spear. Julianus, however, called on the Praatorian party, to 
which he had been truly loyal, to defend him in committee or 


otherwise, and sought to " negotiate" with his rapidly-advanc- 
ing enemy. But the Praetorians heard the long, dull roar of 
the whole empire, and abandoned their creation after his brief 
reign of sixty-six days. That Severus should have marched 
from the confines of Pannonia (or Kansas) so rapidly, is proof, 
says Gibbon, " of the goodness of the roads, and the indolent 
and subdued temper of the provinces." 

The dismayed Praetorians cut off the head of Julianus, and 
were in turn banished and dispensed with by the empire. 

This seems to be a good lesson all around. Julianus, how- 
ever, was spared the humiliation of buying a seat in the Senate 
from a set of negro field-hands, like Patterson, of South Caro- 
lina, or of buying a patent for it. 



Some parts of the Federal Government are never noticed 
here, because they have not associated with politics, and, there- 
fore, never become the subject of party news. 

Few persons ever hear of the National Observatory, the only 
public building here which stands near our meridian of longi- 
tude, and where the computations are made by which American 
sailors grope their way over the main. Few know anything ot 
the Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, one of those 
extraordinary enterprises of the Gallaudet family, where deaf 
mutes are educated for professions, and to be teachers of other 
institutions. The Coast Survey is also a lost institution to the 
great mass of Americans, although it is better known abroad 
than any bureau of our Government. 

| It is the nearest of all the public ateliers to the Capitol 
edifice — only one block. A small tin sign set up against the 
jamb of the open door of a very old brick residence, has been 
its only advertisement for forty years. This old residence is 
one of half a dozen stretched along old New Jersey Avenue 
and on the scarp of Capitol Hill, which are tenanted by the 
office employees of a service embracing the largest area of labor 
in the government. Some of the buildings are across the 
way ; some are in a newer, smaller row on the same Avenue ; 
one building is a fire-proof safe, big enough for a family to live 



in ; the main office is in Law's old block, a highly respectable, 
thread bare, Bleak House sort of pile, which is cracking and 
groaning through its hollow concavities more and more every 

If you have any business with the Coast Survey — and it is not 
to folks in general a " show" department — you might venture 
to peep into its office door some morning, and there you would see 
a bare vestibule, a couple of inhospitable naked rooms for clerks, 
and for the rest a couple of worn and creaking stairs, leading 
to former bed-chambers. Back passages, also uncarpeted, con- 
duct to some old and would-be stately saloons, where a few steel 
engraved plates of the coast surveyings hang, as well as photo- 
graphic pictures of the founders and Superintendents of this 
beneficent undertaking. 

As we wander around these grim and rheumatic old apart- 
ments, over the half-faded carpets, amongst the quaint patterns 
of furniture and plush in former woods, and modes of weaving, 
and feel the mouldering, dry smell of the rented rooms where 
science is driven by democracy, we may well experience a sensi- 
tiveness as to what a little chance the useful, the diligent, and 
the conscientious attain . amongst us, and how busy are the 
criticisms of ignorance, calling itself " practicability," upon 
matters beyond its ken. The meanest committee of Congress 
has a fire-proof parlor, walnut and leather furniture, a sumptuous 
clerk and a lackey. 

But here is the Coast Survey, suggested by Jefferson, begun 
by Gallatin, organized by Hassler, perfected by Bache, and 
recognized by every learned body in this world, — this institution 
may be said to exist by the oversight of politicians ; it scarcely 
knows where to lay its head ; it lives like the poor scholar, up 
back-attics, and in neglected dormitories ; it steadily refuses to 
be regulated by politicians, and it only gets its regular appro- 
priation because of the ignorance of the caucus Congressmen, 
who are afraid to be voted asses if they denounce it. 

One of the most interesting personages of the Coast Survey 
is Mathiot, the electrotyper, who has been at his business for 
the Government about a third of a century. 


He is a Marylander, a quiet, spectacled, grave man, below 
the medium size, and he discovered the art of separating the 
engraved plates of coast survey charts from the metallic impres- 
sions taken of them — these impressions being used to print 
from, while the original plate is deposited in the fire-proof 
magazine. This discovery has saved ours and other govern- 
ments tens of thousands of dollars, but it is needless to say that 
Mathiot never got any recompense, and perhaps little recogni- 
tion for it. He is one of those ancient, slow, dutiful men, such 
as grow up and ripen, and are happy under benignant govern- 
ments. Some years ago he went down the river on the memo- 
rable excursion which killed a part of Tyler's Cabinet, and 
when the gun called the " Peacemaker" burst, Mathiot heard 
the gunmakers discuss the causes. They agreed that all the 
vibrations of the metal were caught in the acute angle where 
the breech was pealed down to the barrel — tons of pressure 
concentrated upon a spot. Mathiot got to thinking this over, 
as it applied to the substance he should interpose between his 
plates. He had tried wax, and many other mediums, but the 
problem seemed to be something which should receive and 
deaden the whole force of electrotyping, — not make the plates 
cohere, nor yet deface the original plate. After much groping 
he hit upon alcohol and iodine. This, transferred by galvanism, 
makes a thin coating between the plate and the metal copy, of 
the scarcely conceivable thinness of 1,400 of the billionth part 
of an inch. Then, by filing off the edges of the two plates, the 
copy comes off absolutely perfect. Prior to that discovery the 
costly plates were crushed and defaced in the press, and were 
good for nothing after a few hundred impressions. But by the 
Mathiot process a dozen printing plates could be produced from 
one engraving. 

It is the pleasantest sight in this bureau, to see the plates 
separated, and the tin burnished silver faces of the large and 
delicate charts come perfect from their delicate embrace, every 
line, figure, fluting and hair clearly defined, and the microscope 
showing no difference whatever. They have not touched, yet 


the)' have imparted and received the whole story. It makes 
the dogma of the Immaculate Conception credible. 

To reduce the original drawings of charts to plate and stan- 
dard size, the camera is used. The sheets are printed on a 
hand press, the ink being rolled over frequently. There is no 
line engraving in the world superior to these charts. 

By the establishment of the Coast Survey the sea is made as 
sure and as familiar as the land. Almost every port in the 
Union has derived benefit from this organization. 

A Judge of the Supreme Court was telling me, a few' days 
ago, about some inordinate fees which counsel had received, 
within his knowledge. For example : David Dudley Field re- 
ceived 1300,000 from the Erie Railroad. William M. Stewart 
was paid $25,000 cash by the Gould-Curry silver mine, and so 
many feet of the ore, which altogether netted him $200,000. 
Jeremiah S. Black received $60,000 from the New Alexander 
mine, and a few months ago he sued them for $75,000 in addi- 
tion, and received judgment. Wm. M. Evarts has been paid 
$25,000 for defending Andrew Johnson, and his annual income 
is $125,000. He recently charged $5,000 for one speech, 
which occupied eighty minutes. The Justice who gave this 
information decried the high charges which lawyers everywhere 
receive in one day, making no apology for extorting $100, 
where, ten years ago, $5 and $10 were deemed good fees. 

A few days ago I had the pleasure of passing through the 
document and folding-rooms of the Capitol, which are under 
the custody of the Doorkeeper of the House. If you under- 
stand by the Doorkeeper of Congress, a person who stands on 
guard at the entrance thereof, you greatly err ; for the door- 
keeper has more than one hundred employees, and is literally a 
person in authority, saying to one person go and he goeth, and 
to another come and he cometh. The chief subject of superin- 
tendence with the doorkeeper is that of the printed bills, acts, 
memorials, petitions, reports, etc., of Congress, which are filed, 
preserved, and distributed in a series of rooms called the docu- 
ment room, and he also has all the printed matter of Congress 


wrapped up and mailed, after it bas been franked. The Chief 
Doorkeeper's salary is $2,650, and his Chief of Folding Room 
and Chief of Document Room receive each $2,500. The fold- 
ing-rooms lie in the cellars and clefts of the old Capitol build- 
ing, and comprise twenty-six rooms, some of which are below 
the surface of the ground, and are packed with layers of books 
twelve deep, the fall of a pile of which would crush a man 
to death. About 260,000 copies of the Agricultural Report 
alone are printed every" year, and these will probably weigh two 
pounds a-piece, or 260 tons. Each member of Congress has 
about 1,000 copies of this book, for distribution, and all these 
copies are put up and warehoused in the folding-room, subject 
to the member's frank, and when they are to be mailed they 
are packed in strong canvas bags, of the Capacity of two bush- 
els of grain measure. Sometimes 200 of these heavy bags are 
sent of a single night to the Post-office, to take their turn on 
the much-abused mail train. The boys who put up speeches 
and books for the mail are paid by the quantity of work done, 
and good hands can make nearly $50 a month.. It is a busy 
scene in the depths of the old Capitol building, to see wagons 
come filled with documents, long rows of boys sealing envel- 
opes, and others working with twine, and the custodians and 
directors of the work are generally free to admit that there is 
much unnecessary printing done, and that many of the books 
printed are stored away and forgotten, in the vaults of the 
mighty labyrinth. 

•; The document-room occupies what was once the Post Office 
for the House of Representatives, and a part of the lobby and 
galleries of that celebrated old hall, now many years deserted 
for the new wing, where subsequent to the year 1818, the pop- 
ular body of the Legislature assembled under the Speakership 
of Henry Clay, James K. Polk, John Bell, Philip Barbour, 
Andrew Stevenson, Robert C. Winthrop, Howell Cobb, and 
Linn Boyd. Here upwards of two millions of copies of bills 
and documents are annually received, distributed, and filed, for 
nearly the whole of the vast business of Congress is done by 


aid of printing,-— the bills, acts, etc., being on the desk for 
every member at the moment of debating them. The usual 
number of copies of a bill printed is 750, and, if five amend- 
ments should be proposed, this would make 3,750 copies. If, 
therefore, each Congress should pass or consider 1,000 bills, 
each having five amendments, there would be 15,000,000 
copies issued. About 20,000 copies of the laws of the United 
States are printed every year at a cost of several thousand dol- 
lars, and the sum of $689,000 was expended last year in all 
sorts of Congressional literature. The documents of Congress 
go back to the first Congress, and a manuscript index to them 
is kept, but the repository for them is neither fire-proof nor of 
sufficient capacity, so that they are in danger of combustion or 
hopeless confusion. The Capitol edifice is already too small 
for the multifarious offices and uses required of it, and we shall 
soon be compelled to meet the question of a general enlarge- 
ment of the whole affair or a relinquishment of much of tlie 
work which has been imposed upon the legislative body. 

We shall hare to expect differences of opinion on such ques- 
tions as concern the gravity and self-knowledge of the whole 
Federal Republic. 

Take this case : The Commissioner of the Land Office, 
Joseph Wilson, is a man of wide reading and wonderful indus- 
try, and every year he prepare* a very voluminous report upon 
the condition of the public domain, not only returning the 
statement of the new surveys, the quantity of land sold, and 
such technical tables as belong to his duty, but he also com- 
poses and throws together in an admirable way, the latest 
problems of empire and extension, the history of gold, and 
many miscellaneous statements of the highest interest. In 
addition to this he has handsomely measured and executed in 
his office, by accomplished German map-makers, such charts as 
will illustrate his report. One of these maps in particular, in- 
tended to show, upon Mercator's projection, the past, the pre- 
sent, and the prospective routes to, and possessions of, the 
Pacific, is entirely unique and admirable, and it is, perhaps, 
twelve feet square. 


The question at once arises in the mind of every Congress- 
man, " Shall we accept and print that report and have the ex- 
pensive maps appended to it engraved ?" 

Here are two arguments at once ; and where would you, if 
a Congressman, stand upon the question ? 

1. Pro. : It was good of the Commissioner to do so much 
good work, and he ought to be encouraged in it. He is justly 
proud of his valuable map, and it will do much good to scatter 
it broadcast with the report. The nation rejoices to see itself 
in the light of its rivals, and to see the century in the light of 
the past. Few officials care to do overwork, and Wilson's re- 
ports are as readable as they are important. 

2. Contra : The Commissioner's reports are too long, and 
undertake too much schoolmastership. His big map will cost 
$200,000 to engrave it. The Republic is not a high school, and 
a Land Commissioner is not a Professor of History. If we 
print this report it will be putting a premium on extra and un- 
necessary printing, and if we circulate the map the private 
map-makers will find their trade gone. 

Where do you stand on this question ? 

Yet, this is one of the innumerable topics coming up to re- 
quire to be voted upon, and this one was discussed last session 
in all varieties of ways. Charles Sumner thought the Federal 
State ought to waste no expense to understand and properly 
represent itself, both before its own citizens and the world. 
Mr. Anthony thought economy and a due restriction of Federal 
endeavors inclined us to reject the map. 

I think that I should have voted with Anthony and against 
Sumner,, and on this ground: Under our institutions the 
Government has no business to try to do too much for us. If 
it content itself with giving us a fair chance, the people of 
themselves will write treatises and engrave maps, particularly 
upon special topics. An international copyright law, which 
will cost the Government nothing, will at once raise authorship 
to a profession here, and out of authorship will come maps, facts, 
' excursions, discoveries, and books, all the more valuable that 


the people were rational enough to do them without law. Too 
much help at the centre makes helplessness in the extremities. 
Mr. Wilson's maps ought to be deposited in the Library of Con- 
gress, and any map-maker should be allowed to take copies of 
them at his own expense. Help the Library, Mr. Sumner ! 
and give us a copyright law, and national instruction from 
American sources will ensue. 

"Are you a revenue detective ? " said I to a man of my ac- 

" No, not exactly. I had been studying up whiskey frauds, 
and I told Mr. Boutwell, who is an old friend of mine, that I 
believed that I could recover some millions of money lost dur- 
ing the years 1866, 186T, 1868." 

" You see," continued Mr. Martin, " that during those years 
of Johnson's administration the revenue derived from whiskey 
was only about $15,000,000 a year, although five times as 
much whiskey was distilled then as now, and although the tax, 
which is now 50 cents a gallon, was then $2 a gallon. Now, 
the revenue from whiskey obtained during the first year of 
Grant's administration has been $72,000,000, and I believe 
that $200,000,000 can be recovered from the distilleries- and 
the defaulting revenue officials at civil suit. My investigations 
have been confined to New York, where I am confident that I 
can recover $50,000,000." 

" What was the nature of those frauds ? " 

" It is my belief that in nine-tenths of the cases the govern- 
ment officials were the corrupters of the distillers. Those cor- 
rupt officials escaped summary expulsion by the operations of 
the Tenure-of-Office law, for, even when Johnson was willing to 
turn out a perjured collector or assessor, that willingness was 
interpreted by the Senate to be a political prejudice, and the 
rascal always kept his place by proving that he was an anti- 
Johnson man. The distillers have almost invariably admitted 
to me that they would have made more money, with less wear 
and tear of conscience, had they paid the whole tax and traded 
on the square " 


" Explain how the frauds were committed generally." 
" Well, the act of fraud was generally perpetrated in this 
manner : The law compels every distillery to have two receiv- 
ing tubs, into which the high wines or whiskey is run, and no 
liquor is to be run into those tubs after dark. The revenue 
officer is supposed to come to the distillery and watch the whis- 
key drawn from the tubs into barrels, at which time he takes- 
note of the number of gallons, and collects the tax. I have 
found distilleries of the largest capacity to return fifteen or 
twenty barrels a day, whereas a thousand, fifteen hundred, or 
two thousand barrels was probably the actual quantity manufac- 
tured. The fraud was, of course, perpetrated by collusion with 
the revenue officers, and in this way : An underground pipe 
extended from the bottom of the receiving tubs to a neighbor- 
ing building rented by the distiller and called a rectifying room. 
If the underground pipe was suspected or found to be awkward, 
some boards were loosened in the roof above, and a hose or 
pipe dropped into the whiskey, which was then pumped by a 
hand pump or a steam engine into the rectifying room, where 
it was secretly barreled. Now, we come to that part of the 
fraud by which it was made next to impossible to trace the 
illegal whiskey into the hands of the buyer. The distiller 
would go to a whiskey dealer or speculator and conclude a mock 
purchase from him of, say, two thousand barrels of whiskey. 
When the illegal whiskey from the rectifying room was sold 
and shipped, therefore, the distiller's books showed that he has 
purchased two thousand barrels of crude whiskey of a certain 
party, and rectified it merely ; while a detective, tracing up 
this whiskey, would find the books of the pseudo seller to cor- 
respond with those of the distiller ; everything, therefore 
seemed to be fair and square, and the deteciives were baffled. 
But, I am able to show, even where I cannot prove such a sale 
to have been a false one, that the government has a right to 
damages because, in almost every case this mock sale is marked 
down at a price below the tax, and this of itself the law sup- 
poses to be primd facie evidence of evasion." 


" But, iMr. Martin, were there not door-keepers placed upon 
all the distilleries ? " 

" Certainly ; but they, like the gaugers, and all the rest up 
to collectors, were put upon salary, and found it convenient to 
slip away whenever necessary. I am prepared to show that as 
much as $15,000 a week was paid for months and months by 
some single distilleries, and from that down to $100 and $500 
a week, as blackmail. In many cases the first instalments of 
these enormous subsidies were paid as flat blackmail. Let me 
give you an example : A distiller, in one case which I investi- 
gated, was a matter-of-fact German, who was mentally incapa- 
ble of keeping himself informed upon the intricate system of 
laws affecting the distilleries, which were constantly being 
amended, repaired, or repealed by Congress. The character 
of legislation upon this subject is of itself a snare and a pitfall 
to the simple man. Well, my old German distiller, knowing 
little of some new turn in the law, was waited upon one day by 
a revenue officer, who told him that he was operating illegally, 
and that his place must be forthwith closed up. 

" ' Why,' says my simple-minded man, ' I had no intention 
of violating the regulations. If you close me up now you will 
ruin me. Here I have stored away an immense quantity of 
grain and other material. Is there no way of avoiding this 



" ' I don't know,' says the revenue man, dubiously, ' I have 
only one set of orders. But you may keep on until to-morrow, 
when I will see the Collector. I won't close you up to-day.' 

" The next day back comes the revenue man, with a serious 
face, and says : 

" ' We have talked this matter over at the office, and we 
don't want to shut you up. We think that you are a good man, 
and that you mean to do right. I am instructed to say that 
$5,000 will fix this matter for the present.' 

" The distiller sees no way of escape. Time is precious to 
him. So he gives his check for five thousand dollars drawn to 
4 cash.' Thus begins a series of blackmailings, and there is no 


going back, because the distiller's offence is a State's Prison 
one. At last weary of these repeated exactions, he agrees 
with the revenue officer to pay a fixed salary every week. 

" Take another case : A man has put up a distillery ; he 
finds the tax on whiskey is two dollars a gallon, and yet that 
he can buy it in the market for a dollar and a quarter, so he 
goes to the Collector. 

" ' I have spent a hundred thousand on my distillery,' he 
says, ' and I propose to go into the busines ; but, if I pay the 
tax and sell at the market rates, I do not see how I can make 

" Well,' answers the Collector, ; you must do as others do. 
I will send a man to you to-morrow, who will tell you how to 

" The next day a man goes down and debauches the distiller 
with a statement of how others do. Thus a mighty net- work 
of villainy covers the whole trade. The distillers get to look 
upon the government officials as a class of blackmailers, and, 
as I have said^ at least a quarter of a million dollars has been 
lost to the Treasury. The distillers put upon their guard, effect 
an organization for mutual defense, and send their attorneys to 
Washington. In the pursuit of these discoveries, I have been 
opposed by the majority of the revenue officers in New York 
most bitterly. But I believe that the distillers, as a class, have 
been seduced into dishonesty, and, instead of sending them to 
jail, I am in favor of beginning a series of civil suits to recover 
the money lost during the years I have named. 

At this point Mr. Martin gathered himself up like a box-ter- 
rapin, and refused to make whiskey frauds any more mysterious. 

Washington City is the paradise of blank-book and bill-head 
makers. There are about half-a-dozen firms of this sort on 
Pennsylvania Avenue, which keep up an ornamental shop front, 
sell an envelope or a bottle of ink twice a week, and for the 
rest exist, or rather prosper, upon government contracts. The 
fattest take these worthies have is the Interior Department, 
whose Secretary makes his stationery contracts blind-folded. 


A couple of ex-Commissioners of Patents seem to hare seconded 
him to the extent of ordering about ten thousand dollars in sta- 
tionery every month, and when* some time ago, Hon. Elisha 
Foote took charge of the office, and found that a thousand dol- 
lars a month would be an extravagant outlay, for this material, 
the combined cohorts of Browning, the stationers, the Patent 
agents, and the corrupt clerks of the Patent Office in collusion 
with the swindlers, charged home upon him. 

The subjectanatter of this collusion was the merry contract 
of Dempsey and O'Toole, a pair of gentlemen whose losses in 
the lost cause of J. Davis & Co., naturally made them objects 
of sympathy. They were awarded the contract for stationery 
and printing for the entire Interior Department, being the low- 
est bidders, according to the extraordinary description of bid- 
ding in vogue in Washington. This manner of bidding is 
something like this ; the stationer sees that among a large num- 
ber of articles there are needed gold pens, steel pens, expen- 
sive bound books, and envelopes. He makes a mental guess 
that not more than twenty-five gold pens will be needed by the 
whole department ; therefore, he offers to furnish these at seven 
cents each, the price of the same being, perhaps, three dollars each. 
But steel pens, he guesses, will be required to the amount of 
a hundred thousand ; the price of these he sets at five times 
their value. So with the few expensive ledgers. These he bids 
for at half their value, while he charges 300 per cent, profit upon 
common envelopes, the demand for which is enormous. By 
taking the average of an audacious bid like this it will be found 
in the aggregate lower than an honest contract ; for the depart- 
ment is unable to specify precisely the amount of each article 
it may wish to use, and the stationer expects to regulate 'this 
use by .collusion with parties inside the office. 

When Mr. Elisha Foote, the Commissioner of Patents, came 
to his office, he found that under this fraudulent contract he 
was burdened with useless stationery at enormous rates. Bond 
paper, worth two cents a sheet, charged eight cents, lay in the 
vaults of the Patent Office, enough to last twenty years. Nev- 


ertheless, the contractors demanded to furnish $24,000 worth 
more at the same extravagant rate, and claimed that a verbal 
contract to that effect had been made with A. M. Stout, ex 
Commissioner. Mr. Foote then, to test the honesty of the con- 
tract, ordered three hundred gold pens at the low rate annexed 
in the schedule ; at this the stationers raised the cry that 
Commissioner Foote was profligately buying gold pens for 
all his clerks. Small paper-covered entry-books, as big as a 
boy's " copy-book," worth twenty-five cents, were charged twen- 
ty-five dollars ! Fifty thousand strips of paste-board, three 
inches square, worth a mill apiece, were charged four cents 
apiece. A bill was exhibited, paid by one of Mr. Foote's prede- 
cessors, for twenty-eight thousand Patent Office heads and forms 
whereas only eleven thousand had been delivered. Interro- 
gated upon this, the stationers, appearing by Richard Jtlerrick, 
their counsel, alleged that they had been permitted to collect in 
advance and use the government funds in their business. Asked 
why the additional heads were not forthcoming, they accused 
Mr. Foote of taking away the printing plate. 

In brief, Mr. Foote refused to pay the bill of $24,000 without 
an investigation. This was ordered to take place before three 
patent-officers, B. F. James, of Illinois, Norris Peters, of Dela- 
ware, and E. "W. W. Griffm of the District of Columbia. This 
report is one of the most extraordinary pieces of white- washing 
in the history of Washington audacity. 

" The terms and conditions of the contract proper," says this 
commission, " exclude, necessarily, any inquiry into its char- 
acter or of the prices stipulated to be paid, unless fraud is 

" And we are also of the opinion that bills presented to 
the Patent Office, accepted and paid, are also an estoppel on the 
part of the office as to the character of goods purchased and 
the prices paid therefor. Such purchases may be considered a 
matter of contract," etc., * * * " other matters 
that refer to the interests of the Office, in which Dempsey & 
O'Toole have not by any testimony been implicated, and which 


in their nature should not be made public by the commission, 
will form the subject of a separate report." 

Meantime Secretary Browning, with unseemly haste, twice 
ordered Commissioner Foote to cash this bill. The Commis- 
sioner said he would go to jail first. Arrangements were then 
made to take him in front, flank, and rear, by threat, inuendo, 
and storm, and while the stout Old gentleman was wondering 
whether it was wise or possible to be honest in any public placje, 
Congress happily came to his relief, despite the objections of the 
Democrats, and forbade the bill to be paid without investiga- 

This case is convincing that the whole business of contract- 
ing for stationery at Washington is unprincipled, that waste 
and profligacy of stationery is universal, and that the Patent 
Office is^full of people in collusion with outside scoundrels. 

Here comes the manuscript of the Secretary of State, and 
it is set up by sworn compositors, who dare not disclose it. 
Here most generally by observance, but not at present by 
breach, comes the first draft of the President's message, and 
all its accompanying papers. The long reports of Committees 
of Congress upon every conceivable question, are put into 
type here. In a word, no where else is any printing done for 
the general Government except the debates of Congress, which 
are* given out by contract, and the bonds and notes of the 
United States, which are printed in the Treasury Department. 
In this building even the money orders are printed and 
stamped, which go through the post-office like so many drafts. 
So are the lithographic plates prepared here to illustrate the 
large reports of explorations. 

In 1860, Cornelius Wendell, a celebrated typographical and 
political jobber, sold this establishment to the United States 
for 1135,000, and it is now the very largest printing office in 
the world. 

Among the public printers have been Gales and Seaton, 
Jonathan Elliott, Armstrong of Tennessee, Duff Green, Blair 
and Hives, Cornelius Wendell, and John D. Defrees, who has 
held the position since 1861. 


If there is anything that is pretty, it is to see a pretty girl 
On an Adams' press, feeding the monster so daintily. 

Here is a double row of them — Una and the lion reduced to 
machinery — presses and girls, the press looking up as if it 
would like to " chaw" the girl up, if it could only get loose 
from the floor, and the girl dropping a pair of black eyes into 
the cold heart of the press, all warm now with friction,, 1 
ashamed of its grimy mouth, burning to slip its belt and 
trample the paper to ribbons, and turn bondage into bliss. 
She, meantime, touches it with her little foot, thrills it with 
the gliding of her garment, poises over it on one white little 
finger the plain gold ring of some more Christian engagement, 
and black with jealousy, the press plunges into its slavery 
again, dishevelled with ink ; dripping varnish, cold and keen 
of teeth, the imp goes on, and the beautiful tyrant only 

The government printing-office involves a yearly expense of 
from one million and a-half dollars to over two millions, and 
this does not include the printing of the debates of Congress, 
which is done by contract at the Globe office, and which costs 
seven dollars a column to report them, and six dollars (I 
believe) a copy per session for the Globe, in which they are 

The five successive stages of this building are busy in scenes 
and suggestions worthy of our attention, but the limits of 
your pages and your patience demand more substantial 

Government printers get a trifle better prices than are paid 
elsewhere in the country. Steady work will give one $1500 
a year in this manufactory. The work girls get from nine to 
twelve dollars a week. The printers are almost always in 
excess, however. 

The great Bullock press cost $25,490. In one year new 
type added cost $18,804 ; printing ink, $19,717 ; coal, seven 
hundred tons ; new machinery, $5,000. 

In the bindery, four thousand Russian leather skins were 


used, seven hundred and sixty packs of gold leaf (costing 
nearly $7,000), nearly five thousand dollars worth, of twine, 
and as much of glue. , 

The Executive Departments, with the Courts, required in 
186T about $757,000 worth of printing, while the House of 
Representatives ran up a bill of 1454,000, and the Senate 
$186,000. In addition to this, Acts of Congress warranted 
about $233,000 additional of work done for miscellaneous 
objects. Mr. Seward was a dainty hand with the types, and 
would have no bindings but the best. His bill in one year 
was about $32,000. The Supreme Courts and its satellite 
courts take less than half as much, or nearly $15,000. The. 
Congressional printer himself has a little bill of $700, but the 
Attorney-General is most modest of all, not reaching the 
figure of $600, nor does the new Department of Education 
consume more. The Agricultural Department, with its huge 
reports, 'passes $32,000. The monstrous appetite of the 
Treasury leads everything, with nearly $300,000, and the War 
Department follows it with $148,000. Next come the Post 
Office, Navy and Interior Departments, ranging from $78,000 
to $52,000. 

No enlightened Government in this age can do without 
public documents, but the whole system of distributing them 
should be changed. There are, perhaps, 3,000 odd counties 
in the United States. Let Government content itself with 
presenting a copy of every public -work to these, and let it sell 
the rest to the people at cost price. 

Of the agricultural report the extraordinary number of 
220,000 copies have been ordered for last year alone, at a cost 
of $180,000, or about eighty-five cents a copy. This cost is 
enough to pay the President, Vice-President, all the Cabinet 
officers, the Speaker of the House, and two-thirds of the first- 
class foreign ministers. In these reports there are 450,000 
pounds of paper, or 225 tons, enough to take 225 double-horse 
wagons to pull them. Now, put these 225 tons into the mail 
bags,. franked by Congressmen to corner grocers and gin-mill 


proprietors, and you get some notion of the reason why the 
Post-Office Department was not self-sustaining. 

One evil suggests and supports another. The swindles of 
the world are linked together, and the devil's forlorn expedients 
against the nation are " omnibussed." 

At this very moment there are 800,000 copies of the reports 
for various years lying in the vaults of the Patent Office build- 
ing, being the quantity annually printed in excess of the 
demands even of extravagance. These copies represent $80,-000 
of the people's money invested in waste paper, mildewing, 
rotting, the spoil of paste-rats and truss makers. The new 
Commissioner of Patents, Mr. Foote, when he took his seat 
some time ago, was not aware of this decaying mass of agri- 
cultural knowledge, manuring the ground instead of the yeoman 
intellect. The Patent Office is self-supporting, but that is no 
reason why it should print more books than it wants. The bill 
for engraving plates of models for the Patent Office last year, 
was $85,000. This is not mis-spent, but the excess of books 
was profligacy. 

The usual number of copies printed of any public document 
is 1,550, or about the average circulation of books printed by 
private publishing houses. Out of this number more than 
one-half are bound up, the rest being distributed in sheets by 
gift, mail, or otherwise. 

It is the current belief in Washington that the Patent Office 
department of the Government is not without corruption, but 
the agents and lawyers whose offices lie in its environs, and 
who are at the mercy of its examiners, are chary to speak, much 
of their bread and butter being bound up in the good- will of the 
directory. A partial awarding of patents, in the interest of 
money instead of merit, involves unjust millions of dollars, 
besides discouraging inventors, and making them doubt the 
righteousness of the Government. With a corrupt Patent Office, 
infinite law-suits arise, and yet it is probable that money is freely 
used within the precincts of that building, the claims of inven- 
tors who are willing to pay being considered in many gross cases 


beyond those of the needy. So is there preference among the 
patent agents — those who solicit patents — some being under- 
stood to have the ears of the office at their disposal, others 
failing to secure patents which are afterwards willingly granted 
to cotemporaries. One of the oldest patent lawyers in the city 
said to me a few days ago : 

" The Patent Office has been more or less corrupt for fifteen 
years ! Yes, twenty ! When I used to be an anti-slavery man, 
in the years of Pierce and Buchanan, my clients were given to 
understand that they would be wise to apply for patents by 
some other agent. Recently, I have known the changing of 
the agent to get the patent promptly. The office ought to Jbe 
thoroughly overhauled. It has become so that examiners 
expect to serve a brief term and go out rich." 

Mrs. Foote, the wife of the Commissioner, is an inventor, 
whose patents have been profitable. She has invented a skate 
without straps, and several other things. 

Thaddeus Hyatt, once incarcerated in the District Jail for a 
complicity which he affected to have with John Brown's raid, 
is now a successful inventor, his patents for glass-lights in pave- 
ments netting him a very large income. 

About fifty thousand patents have been issued in the United 
States in thirty years, the receipts for which in fees have been 
nearly two millions and a half of dollars, while the British 
Government has granted only about forty thousand patents in 
2. r ,0 years. This shows the extraordinary mental activity of 
the American mind in mechanics, and the Patent Office build- 
ing, which has cost the government no money, is the best monu- 
ment to American shrewdness and suggestiveness in the world. 
Amongst nearly a hundred thousand models stored in the splen- 
did galleries of that institution, one may wander in hopeless 
bewilderment, feeling that every model, however small, is the 
work of some patient year, lifetime, and often of many life- 
times, so that the entire contribution, if achieved by one mind, 
would have extended far into a human conception of an eternity 
of labor. 


The best: patent lawyers in the United States are Judge Cur- 
tis and Mr. Whiting of Boston, Messrs. Gafford and Keller of 
New York, George Harding of Philadelphia, and Mr. Latrobe 
of Baltimore. 

The most succesful firm of patent agents is represented by 
the newspaper called the Scientific American, which began 
upwards of twenty-two years ago. One of its partners is one 
of the ancient enemies of Bennett, who classified them as " Old 
Moses Beach and those other sons of Beaches," " proprietors 
of the New York Sun. The other partners are Munn and 
Wales. Their income is fifty thousand dollars a year to each 
partner, and they obtain one-third of all the patents issued, 
which are chiefly, however, what are classified as " cheap pat- 
ents," on small and simple inventions. The Scientific Amer- 
ican was started by an inventor, Rufus Porter, who sold out to 
the present owners. They refused to insert in it the cards of 
other patent agents, and it being the only paper of its class, 
the inventors at large transact their business through its pro- 
prietors. It was lately edited by Mr. McFarland, and under 
his management was altogether the best paper for inventors in 
the world. The Commissioners of Patents include some good 
names, chief of whom was Attorney General Holt, others being 
Ellsworth and Bishop of Connecticut, Burke of New Hamp- 
shire, Ewbank of New York, Hooper of "Vermont, Mason of 
Iowa, and Theaker of Ohio. 

The Patent Office building is generally adjudged to be the 
most imposing of all the national edifices of the Capital. To 
my mind the Post Office is a better adaptation. The former 
was the work of the present architect of the Capital, Edward 
Clark, and its three porticoes cost $75,000 apiece. The four 
grand galleries, or model rooms, are unlike and magnificent. 
It is related here that inventors who spend many years among 
these models commonly go crazy. 

These divers operations, possessing little affinity, are all to 
be transacted by one head. The Bureau of Pensions dispenses 
nearly nineteen millions of dollars a year ; the Land Office gives 


away from seven to ten millions of acres of land ; three hun- 
dred thousand Indians are dealt with by the Indian Bureau ; 
seventeen thousand patents are applied for to the Commission- 
er ; all the Pacific railways are superintended and subsidized ; 
the public buildings and property in the United States in the 
District of Columbia and all the territories are administered ; 
two millions of dollars are paid to the United States Courts ; 
the whole of this immense and various business is transacted 
by one man. The Secretaryship of the Interior is therefore 
one of the very strongest positions in the government. So 
manifold became its duties that sometime ago the Agricultu- 
ral Bureau was endowed with a special head, reporting directly 
to Congress, and moved out of the o'ercrowded Patent Office. 
Now the Indian Bureau demands to be also brought nearer to the 
executive head of the Government, or made independent, so 
that its Commissioner can have his legitimate influence with 
Congress. The Patent Office building is packed with Clerks, 
who also occupy the whole or parts of adjacent buildings, and 
it is demanded that a Department of the Interior be built on 
the Judiciary square, in the rear of the city hall, with the earn- 
ings of the Patent Office. 



The war of the rebellion was attended with the demoraliza- 
tion usual to wars, and the extent of the disorder was propor- 
tionate to the area and cost of the war. A portion of the State 
legislatures had been corrupt for fifteen years prior to the re- 
bellion. The corruptions in New York State and Pennsylvania 
had long attracted the serious consideration of patriotic people, 
and were ascribed to the patronage of the State works, railroads, 
canals, which being commonwealth enterprises, got to be the 
spoils of party. In Pennsylvania a coalition between private 
capitalists and reformers took the canals and railways out of 
the hands of the State, and there grew up in turn powerful 
corporate interests which were constantly breaking the law, 
and seeking new concessions. At the head of these was the 
great Pennsylvania Company which preferred to purchase leg- 
islation rather than to persuade it, because it was not the desire 
of this company that there should be any general discussion of 
railroad ethics. Such discussion might have resulted in enlarg- 
ing the charities and educating the people in political economy 
to the extent of dangerous concessions to rival companies. 
The State of Pennsylvania, stretching across the Union from 
tide water to the lakes, was a perpetual barrier between the 
population of the interior, and the great sea-ports and man- 
ufacturing districts of the East ; it was the policy of the Penn- 
sylvania railroad from the day of its consolidation, to inculcate 



a selfish policy amongst the citizens of the State, and hence the 
■ press and the legislature were subsidized almost from the out- 
set. The corporations grew in time to be the waste of the 
Commonwealth, and the morals and intellect of the State were 
corrupted, while at the same time the natural advantages of 
Pennsylvania gave it a career of prosperity which was adroitly 
made to appear the result of the great monopoly. 

New York State took another course ; it has never surren- 
dered the public works and canals, although many ardent 
reformers like Horace Greeley have argued that political morals 
would be improved at the State Capital by leaving these works 
to individuals, and getting rid of temptation. New Tork con- 
tains also two belt lines of rail across her territory, which have 
neutralized each other at the State Legislature. Thus corrup- 
tion in the Empire State has thriven almost wholly upon the 
spoils of the metropolis, and in a less degree upon the canals. 

The State of New Jersey received a different treatment from 
its great railroad corporations; the policy of the New Jersey 
railroad was neighborly, provincial, and accommodating. But 
corruption upon a wholesale plan was not indigenous there, 
but was imported from the two great States over the borders. 
It was not until the war was done that such scandals ensued, 
as the removal of the Erie Office from New York to Jersey 
City, and the extension of the Pennsylvania Railroad purchase 
and monopoly over the Jersey lines. It is necessary to instance 
these railways and public works as the first and general cor- 
rupters of the three great Middle States. 

Under the old condition of things, when the State Legisla- 
ture had final and general jurisdiction over matters of trans- 
portation, investment, barter, &c, there was an abiding tempta- 
tion to under-reach the State Legislatures, and capitalists in 
New England and the populous towns of the East believed 
corruption to be a cheaper and surer way, than to wait for the 
enlightment of public opinion. Hence a set of dexterous attor- 
neys, solicitors, and lobby-men grew up around the State Capi- 
tols, ready to be hired to buy a bank charter, procure some 


reduction of taxation, some enlarged power over debtors, or 
some act of incorporation which the narrow spirit of the Legisla- 
ture would not accord, by merely frank and ingenuous entreaty. 

It is to be observed that while the Federal Government took 
enlarged power during the contest, none of the central States 
of the Union grew a particle more tolerant. Pennsylvania 
and New Jersey were fastened closer in the embrace of one 
interest, while the great battle for liberalization went on through- 
out the South. 

The influences which existed in a partially organized state at 
Boston, Albany, and Harrisburg, at the outbreak of the Rebel- 
lion, were speedily mustered at Washington City, and a simulta- 
neous attack was made upon the virtue of every Department 
of the Government. Under the color of ridding the Depart- 
ments of disloyal clerks, a wholly new set of officials, greatly 
enlarged as to numbers, were put in the public Departments, and 
in many cases the influences which secured the appointment, 
designed to use the clerk. The dimensions of the war and its 
suddenness, presented such a market for supplies, and gave so 
little time to bargain about rates or qualites, that every manu- 
facturing producer and importer in the country was brought into 
intimate relations with the Government, and recognized a chance 
for instant riches, such as the previous history of the country 
had never permitted. 

The currency of the country was at once enormously expan- 
ded, and the rate of duties raised higher than the most sanguine 
dreams of the Protection school. Thenceforward for four years, 
the interior history of legislation and administration presented 
a scene of selfishness hardly ever paralleled in Christian society, 
but concealed from the people by the splendor and heroism of 
the military movements and mechanical enterprises on the 
surface. Every department of business was enormously expan- 
ded ; every municipality undertook a lavish system of local 
improvements ; the frontier States and Territories developed a 
desperate class of land-grabbers and railway incorporators, 
who had formerly been sutlers or teamsters on the plains. And 


of course such feverish conditions in society could not fail to 
put directly into Congress representatives of schemes, interests 
and mercantile apprehensions, instead of high-minded, indi- 
vidual, patriotic men. 

The morals of the country in other respects had undergone 
deterioration. A sentimentality usurped the place of discreet 
and orthodox common-sense. So much had been said and sung 
about freedom in the abstract, that the women had got to ranting 
for a suffrage of their own, the workmen for a contract to which 
there should be but one side, the religious people for an etymo- 
logical God in the Constitution, and the temperance people for 
a physical and compulsory diet of cold water. It very often 
happened that the sentimentalist and the thief took the same 
personality, and hence an enormous body of men have been 
developed by the war who will never forgive treason, and never 
stop robbing their country. There can be no doubt that the 
general happiness of the American citizen, has been enormously 
enhanced and equalized by the suppression of slavery, but it is 
time that the peens over the great victory be hushed, in order 
that we may review our social and political condition, and sepa- 
rate the loyalist from the hypocrite, the unionist from the pirate. 

There is no way in our country to change the direction of 
affairs except by public opinion expressed at the ballot box. 
But with politicians since the war, parties have lost their tradi- 
tions and faded into each other. Nobody in power is interested 
to produce a change of things, neither that Democratic Con- 
gressman who is sure of his seat from some rutted constituency, 
nor that aspirant for greater honors in the Republican party, 
whose best hold is that he has already, and who may be worked 
up by the force of the organization to some pinnacle of honor 
he could never attain by himself. The. issues presented by the 
people are far beyond the compass of such legislators as we have 
to direct them. Matters of wages, contracts, transportation, 
the reduction of corporations to decent behavior, the suppres- 
sion of excesses by the majority, the matter of the currency 
and the tariff, none of these things can be dealt with dispas- 


sionately and harmoniously, by a Congress of which the constit- 
uency and not the country is the unit. The entire adminis- 
tration of the Republic has come to be internal, and having no 
foreign policy, and there are no opportunities for the public 
mind to be segregated and directed toward a common object. 
Hence Congress has ceased to be a reasoning parliament, but 
is rather a market-house, where the desires and products of 
nearly three hundred Congressional districts are satisfied, 
exchanged, and sold. With such selfishness in the one ruling 
body of the country, — a selfishness not to be charged to the 
Congressman wholly, but to the interests of which he is the 
attorney, and which sent him to Washington — it is almost idle 
to make personal accusations, or select individual culprits for 

Mr. Oakes Ames is typical of his constituency, and there is 
probably no manufacturer in it who would not have adopted his 
example, with the same chance and the same talents. Cor- 
relatively men like Ames who are making too good a thing of 
a national opportunity, will have vampires like James Brooks, 
runners like Jim Wilson, protege's like Colfax, and rivals like 
McComb. Something is wanted to give semblance, reality, 
manhood, and purpose to the general State, before we can have, 
in the large sense, statesmen. A market-house of constituen- 
cies, preying upon each other, comes far short of being a 
Government. Some such spasmodic uprising of the people, as 
was witnessed in 1861, is very inspiring to the eye and the 
mind, but if repeated with the same profligacy and dishonesty, 
and with the same following demoralization, the cost will be 
greater than the conquest. 

Amongst the propositions which have been broached to bring 
order and policy out of Congress, is that of giving the heads of 
Departments the privileges of Congressmen. This proposition 
was seriously made by the Hon. George H. Pendleton, of Ohio, in 
1861. It has been revived in our day by thinkers and writers 
in the public press and on the rostrum. It is contended that 
the heads of Departments, if required to appear in public de- 


bate, would be men of increased statue, of enlarged responsibil- 
ity, of a unified policy, and would give national direction and 
daily intelligibility to affairs, thus throwing into comparative 
retirement the capacity of the constituency which has lost asso- 
ciation with the State government, and merely preys upon the 
general Treasury and the aggregate taxpayer. 

It is certain that we must cease to hold the Congressman 
responsible for forgetting the dignity of his place, and the repu- 
tation of the country, when we merely thrust him forward as 
we do to pull our chestnuts out of the fire on the altar. Dur- 
ing the war a vigorous minority in the Republican party gave 
a national policy to Congress, by resolving to carry the 
measures of emancipation and universal suffrage. Since the 
war there has been no policy, except to confirm these advan- 
tages. Hence a scramble for franchises, lands, subsidies, and 
points of tariff and taxation, has marked nearly the whole of 
our legislation since 1866. The lobbyist has come to be as 
legitimate and as much respected as the Congressman, for 
their missions are identical. Debate is regarded as superflu- 
ous, nearly the whole session is devoted to private bills, and 
matters affecting the constituency, and the general appropri-. 
ation bills are crowded into a few days before adjournment.' 
Congress does not feel qualified to punish anybody for bribery, 
nor to protect its own privileges, nor to find a verdict upon a 
criminal case squarely presented to it. The power of .the 
National Constituency is confined to casting a vote once in four 
years for President and Vice-President, and very frequently the 
lateral issues are such that there can be scarcely a contest. 
Corruption appears to be prevalent, and to go high-handed. 
The capitalist casts his vote With nothing but his investment in 
his mind, and the laborer with nothing but his wages in view. 
There is a geographical nation and a party. A political nation, 
with well defined general objects, and the spirit of honest 
loyalty, one searches for in vain amidst the peculating depart- 
ments and the heterogenous Congress at Washington. The 
greater issues of the country lie along the lines of highway, 


and the United States cannot collect its own taxes from the 
railroad companies. Hence, although the war settled the 
question ol a geographical Union and the basis of suffrage, it is 
without the power to correct internal evils or to command 

Let us look at some instances ot public morals, as we find 
them : First, observe how the Attorney-General was driven out 
of his place by a politician. 

Judge Hoar probably lost his place through his independ- 
ence, and his indisposition to be twitted by politicians. I will 
give you an instance of Hoar's way of offending these gen- 
try : 

Enter to Judge Hoar's office a long-haired, tawny, lathy 
Congressman, from the State of Sadducee. Congressman dis- 
poses himself for a grand Indian council, and is amazed to ob- 
serve the fearless temerity of Judge Hoar, looking him 
through and through with those Presbyterian-blue eyes. 

Lest I might give offense, I will say that Presbyterian-blue is 
a very sincere, honest, dauntless blue, and — what is ot more 
consequence in an argument of this kind, — I am a Presbyterian 

" The Administration," says the long haired Sadducee, 
" ought to take care of its friends, and turn out its enemies. 
All successful Administrations take care of their enemies by 
being very malignant to them." 

" May I ask," says Judge Hoar, in a voice which half an- 
swers its own question, " What you mean by the Administra- 
tion ?" 

" I want to know," says the other, in the vernacular of a man 
taught to talk to a caucus, " who runs the President's ma- 
chine ?" 

" What is the President's machine ?" says the Presbyterian- 
blue eyes, with John Calvin and Theodore Beza both in them. 
" I cannot speak in that way. If you mean who takes care of 
the business of the Executive, General Grant and his Secre- 
taries do that." 


" Then," says the thickly-skinned Sadducee, " they ought to 
take care of their friends, and not put them out of office." 

" I infer, from what you say of friendship," says the Attor- 
ney, " that it will come down directly to some one friend." 

" The Administration ought to take the advice of its friends. 
It ought to confer with its friends. It ought not to do things 
to wound its friends without conferring with its friends." 

" Oh !" says the Attorney blandly, " there are two friends in 
this case, you and the man you come to see about. Now, if 
advice would save this Administration, it is quite safe. I 
spend half my time every day hearing just such advice as you 
are giving me. Please be direct, and give your particular ad- 
vice about this one friend, that I see we are coming to." 

The Congressman, intensely irate, then tells about a man 
who has just been turned out of office, and another man put in 
his seat. The second man, of course, was not a friend of the 
Administration. The first man was. He was a constituent of 
Mr. Sadducee. 

" I can tell you all about that case," said Judge Hoar, " The 
man turned out had been indicted for theft and found guilty. 
The Administration was, at that moment, a little select about 
its friends. Have you any further advice to give, Mr. ?" 

Now, Judge Hoar has been fretted and pushed out of office 
by just such spiteful enemies as that Congressman. 

Another flagrant case of crime against the dignity of the 
United States was that of John C. Fremont and the El Paso 
Railroad. This case, in a nutshell, is that of a private citizen 
taking the bonds of a railroad to France, and advertising them 
there as endorsed by the American Government. 

May 17, 1869, there was laid upon the desks of the Pacific 
Railroad Committee a book with the following title : " The 
Trans-Continental, Memphis, El Paso and Pacific Railroad 
Company : How the Money was obtained in France under False 
Pretences, and How it was Squandered." This book contains 
the affidavit of Stephen Sarter, a stockholder in the city of 
Paris, but whom Fremont's attorneys allege to be a black- 


mailer and a rogue — who charges that he bought of Fremont's 
company 148 first mortgage land-grant bonds, paying for the 
same $116,430 in gold, which he afterward took back to the 
company, and demanded repayment, on the ground that they 
were worthless and sold under false pretences, but that the 
company " wholly refused " them. Sarter then proceeds to 
give the following account of Fremont's doings : 

" In the same year, 1869, Emanuel Lissignol was the agent 
and advertising agent of the Executive Committee in Paris, 
and Frederic Probst its agent and banker. These, with 
Fremont, issued $10,000,000 of first mortgage bonds in 1869, 
at $1,000 each, with interest at 6 per cent., payable in gold, 
all secured by a mortgage on 8,000,000 acres of Texas land. 
All the bonds were sent to Paris, and a spacious office was 
opened at No. 51 Chaussee d'Antin." 

"During the Summer of 1869, and between the months of 
April and September, these offices consisted of a suite of 
rooms fitted up and furnished in a costly and extravagant 
manner ; one of the rooms in the suite was devoted to the 
storing and gratuitous distribution of a pamphlet and map, 
written and compiled by 'Lissignol. Between the months of 
June and September, 1869, the defendants, Fremont and 
Daniel, his engineer, were living in Paris, and they used said 
office as their own, and frequently, if not constantly, were 
there during business hours, and were conferring and in con- 
sultation with Probst and Lissignol, who were the managers 
of said offices, and constantly there during business hours of 
each day ; all of which statements contained in this paragraph 
are within the personal knowledge of deponent." 

Sarter's affidavit then goes on to say what the pamphlet of 
Lissignol alleged about Fremont's railroad property : 

First. That the Memphis, El Paso, and Pacific Railroad 
Company, had purchased and was the owner of a line of 
railway extending from Memphis, Term., to Little Rock, Ark., 
and from Little, Rock to Texarkana, on the eastern border of 
Texas, with full title, power and authority to and over the 


railway, and all its property and franchises ; that said railway 
was then built and completely finished. * 

Second. That the Memphis, El Paso, and Pacific Railroad 
Company had purchased and was the owner of the railway 
extending from Memphis, via Knoxville, to Richmond and 
Norfolk, being 1,550 kilometres, or about one thousand miles 
in length. 

Third. That the Congress of the United States had, in 
March, 1869, passed an act whereby the United States had 
guaranteed the payment of 6 per cent, interest on the construc- 
tion bonds of the company to the amount of $30,000 a mile, 
and also had guaranteed the repayment of the bonds by the 
company at their maturity, to wit : at the end of .fifty years. 

Fourth. That the company had a good, perfect, and abso- 
lute title to more than eight millions oi acres of the most 
fertile lands in the State of Texas, by virtue of concession and 
grants from the Legislature of the State, with full power to 
mortgage the same, and that such lands were then worth, at 
the lowest price, not less than fourteen dollars an acre ; and 
that should these lands ever revert to the State of Texas, by 
reason of any lailure of the company to fulfil its engagements, 
the mortgage by the company remained in full force and 
obligation, and was a valid lien on said lands in whatsoever 
hands the said lands might thereafter come. 

Sarter also says, that a copy of the map issued is in his 
possession, and represents the lines of railway above men- 
tioned, namely : the line of the alleged company from Texar- 
kana to San Diego and San Francisco, from Memphis to Little 
Rock and Texarkana, and from Memphis to Richmond and 
Norfolk ; that the last two lines are laid down in unbroken 
red lines, with a marginal reference thereto, as follows, 
namely : " Railways belonging to the company, trans-Conti- 
nental, Memphis, Pacific, and in running order." Sarter 
further says he has been informed by the officers of the com- 
pany, and verily believes that the cost of printing and circulat- 
ing the map and pamphlet, and of the advertisements in the 


newspapers, was about one million of francs in gold, or about 
two hundred thousand dollars. 

Sarter goes on to say that Fremont paid Probst $200,000 
for this very advertising, which was upon a style that Helta- 
bold, Swain, Ayer, Bonner, or Phalon were excelled, frequently 
taking up a whole page of a paper like If Independence Beige 
or the Steele. 

How the bonds got on the French Stock Exchange. Baron 
G. Boileau, Fremont's brother-in-law, had been French Consul 
General in New York, and it is alleged that he received his 
$150,000 for testifying to the French Minister of Finance that 
Fremont's road was what it was represented to be. To spur 
up this minister, and persuade him to permit the Fremont 
bonds to quotation upon the French Stock Exchange, it was 
held out that Koechlin & Co., and other French builders and 
rail-makers, were ready to take the bonds for engines and 
iron. Probst, the broker, wrote thus shrewdly : 

" A prompt solution to my application (to put the bonds on 
the market) is urgent, because if the French contracts should 
be forfeited, the instructions of the company would compel me 
to make new contracts in Germany. All my past efforts to 
induce the Americans to take their supplies on the French 
iron market would become useless, and I doubt that, after so 
notorious a failure, other American companies would not be 
disposed to give their orders for materials in France. 

" Your Excellency will, probably, understand how important 
it is for the French metallurgy not to miss the single occasion 
that, up to this time, has offered to our iron the United States 
market. I am confident that you will grant me your good-will 
out of regard for a so considerable national interest." 

It has since been ascertained, says Sarter, that neither 
Koechlin & Co., nor any other manufacturer, had agreed to 
take bonds in payment, and nothing but sham contracts had 
been submitted to the French Minister. 

Sarter further says of the iron ordered in Europe, that about 
4,000 tons have arrived in New Orleans, and have been 


attached by the creditors of the Memphis and El Paso Company. 
None of the engines have been shipped to this country. 

The offices of the company in New York were closed under 
pretext of their removal to Washington, where they cannot be ' 
found, and where the officers of the company do not reside. 

For this flagrant abuse of its dignity, and the bringing of 
its credit into contempt in foreign money markets, the United 
States Government never took action of any sort against 
Fremont and his confederates. On the contrary, Fremont 
endeavored to have the American Minister at Paris removed 
for certifying in aid of a French journalist whom the con- 
federates had sued for libel that the United States had never 
guaranteed the bonds of the road. Senator Howard of Michi- 
gan made a series of attacks upon Fremont in the Senate, and 
it was alleged that he ceased only when he had been " seen" 
fby the attorneys of the road. The French Government was no 
I respecter of persons, and in the Spring of 1873 it condemned 
1 Fremont, his brother-in-law the Baron Bolleau, and the brokers 
in the transaction to terms of imprisonment at hard labor. 
Fremont kept out of France, and is still at large. The rolling 
stock and iron he had purchased were seized for debt at New 
Orleans, and finally the road fell into the hands of Tom Scott, 
while the poor French people who had invested in the fraudulent 
bonds to the amount of millions, lost their money, and with 
it respect for the American credit. The same performance 
has been repeated by other railway speculators, none of whom 
have been in any manner molested by the United States courts. 

Another scandal of an atrocious character happened at the 
opening of the Vienna Exhibition in the year 1878. Congress 
voted 1200,000 to arrange the American Department of the 
exhibition, and forward the contributions from American 
producers and manufacturers. A large number of honorary 
commissioners were named by the President, but before the 
exhibition opened it was discovered that several of these had 
purchased their places : some for the honor of an official -posi- 
tion, and others to peculate, blackmail, and rob the inventors. 
Our Minister at Vienna, and our Commissioner-in-Chicf, got 


into a quarrel, and the whole list was suspended by telegraph, 
to the scandal of civilization. 

One of the roads above referred to, whose bonds had been 
thrown out of the foreign markets, is that leading from 
Northern California to the Columbia River, of which the 
presiding genius is Ben. Holliday, formerly a trader and team- 
ster between Missouri and Salt Lake. Whatever his credit 
might have been in the European markets, it was sufficient for 
a very respectable class of Congressmen. 

At a dinner at Welcker's, given. about that time, Holliday \ 
celebrated himself. After they had all drunk Ben's liquor and j 
eaten his terrapin, Roscoe Conkling arose, glass in hand, and 
said that he had a great responsibility to fulfil : that he drank 
to the noble man who had built railroads and run vessels on 
the Pacific Coast, whom New York claimed as one of her 
splendid productions. After Conkling came Kelley, the great 
heavy Senator from Oregon, who said the State of Oregon 
would not permit New York to claim such a magnificent 
production as Holliday, but that he was all Oregonian, and 
heard no sound save his own dashing. Next came Beck of 
Kentucky, who said that New York and Oregon should not 
take from grand old Kentucky the ownership of Ben. Holliday, 
for there he was born, and belonged in honor, — all this mis- 
erable toadyism over a speculator who was in Washington City 
giving dinners to get a subsidy for his imperiled railroad, 
and who had no conception of the private rights of anybody 
standing in his way, but would eat up individuals, corporations, 
and legislatures ! 

No case before the Departments and Congress has made 
more discussion than that of the lease of the Alaska Fur-Seal 
Islands. About 1869, an association of young gentlemen ob- 
tained from the Government, under the provision of an act of 
Congress passed in their favor, the right to take all the seals, 
up to a certain limitation, from the islands of St. George and 
St. Paul, — paying so much per annum for the lease. The most 
prominent person in this company is General Miller, who lost 


an eye in one of Grant's campaigns, and was afterward Col- 
lector of the Port of San Francisco. The Eastern agent is a 
Mr. Hutchinson, one of the singing family of Hutchinson Broth- 
ers of New England, and a shrewd, amiable, and dexterous 
lawyer and negociante. I am told that when General Rous- 
seau was sent up to Sitka and the Russian waters, to take pos- 
session of whatever he found there, after the Russian evacua- 
tion, he gave the hint to some of his triends, who quietly 
repaired overland, by different routes, met him at San Fran- 
cisco, and arrived at Sitka with the money in hand to make 
purchases. Hutchinson, for the firm of Cole, Miller, Hutchin- 
son & Co., instantly concluded a bargain for the store-houses,, 
seal-gear, and sent vessels which constituted a part of the fran- 
chise of the Russian American Company ; and, with this pur- 
chase, there fell to him, besides, some sort of an unexpired 
lease of the fur-seal islands themselves. Now, on the same 
expedition, certain San Francisco capitalists had ensconced 
themselves, chief of whom were the proprietors of the ice-mo- 
nopoly of San Francisco — the ice used at that time on our 
Pacific Coast coming exclusively from one spot in Russian 
America. As the ice people and their camp-followers were 
generally Hebrews, and disposed to look twice at their money, 
before they spent it, they lost the only object worth acquiring 
there — possession of the fur-seal franchises and equipments. 
Of course, two lobbies were instantly formed — the Ins^and the 
Outs — and agents were sent to Washington, who deported them- 
selves as agents generally do here, acting up to their prettiest. 
It was soon apparent that Hutchinson had more genius than 
his opponents, in diplomacy as well as business ; and, although 
Secretary Boutwell, acting from that peculiar original obstinacy 
for which he is noted, cast his influence against the Miller and 
Hutchinson crowd, yet Congress, after investigation in commit- 
tee, unhesitatingly confirmed the original patentees. Under 
the terms of this act, Mr. Boutwell was compelled to give a 
lease to Miller & Co., which he did with a very bad grace. You 
know very well how those squabbles over spoils are conducted. 


Anonymous letters are written to newspapers and reviews ; 
lawyers get in with organs of influence and public men ; pam- 
phlets are put forth, full of affidavits from people far off as 
Kamschatka ; and, if the sorehead party do not succeed in 
ousting their opponents, they generally expect to be bought 
over in order to have the quarrel stopped. Does not this case, 
and the utter impossibility of computing the right or wrong 
of it, show that the National Congress, meeting on the slope 
of the Atlantic Ocean, is undertaking to do too much when it 
either gives out or rescinds contracts to this or that party for 
distant monopolies, which can never be quite understood away 
from the place of their location ? 

The case of McGarrahan vice Gomez, for the New Idria quick- 
silver mine, is a notable instance of audacity, stock and the 
burning of fire crackers as elements of notability at "Washing- 
ton. The printed reports, briefs, locums and confabs on this 
case make a formidable literature. 

The New Idria mine is situated about 1 60 miles from San 
Francisco, and is one of half a dozen or more mines of cinna- 
bar in America, and second in product only to the New Alma- 
den mine, which was also the subject of prolonged litigation. 
In 1851 a party of mining pioneers seeking silver in the moun- 
tains, three thousand feet above the sea, discovered cinnabar, 
and proceeded in a small way to develop it. After a few years 
some merchants and men of small means organized with them 
a stock company for the purpose of more methodical and ex- 
tensive mining, and the mine and company took the name of 
Idria from an older mine of cinnabar in Austria. Long prior 
to this time the purchase and manufacture of Mesilan claims 
had become a profitable and seductive business, and the forma- 
tion of the new company appears to have inspired an unusually 
large transaction of this description. In February and May, 
1838, people appeared around and about the mine professing 
to look for what they named The Panoche Grande grant. This 
was represented to be a tract of land granted to one Gomez in 
the year 1844, by a Mexican Governor of Upper California, and 


/by him transferred for the sum of $1,100 to William McGarra- 
han, in the winter of 1857, at a period suspiciously close to the 
stocking of the mine. 

Under Gomez, this alleged grant had run a long and crooked 
career of litigation. The Commission to determine Mexican 
land grants had rejected it in 1855, but the attorney of Gomez 
got the appointment of U. S. District Attorney and bought 
half the claim for one dollar, had the case brought before the 
court of a distant district on appeal and there passed. By two 
decrees the area was fixed at three and afterward at four leagues. 
Gomez, having a bad character as a forger and perjurer, was 
got rid of, and the District Attorney and McGarrahan became 
the only claimants. Fearing the fraud in the District Court 
would undo them, a crafty appeal was made to the United 
States Supreme Court, and the record of its dismissal smuggled 
into the court records. The U. S. District Attorney, working 
on the inside, expected to make this an easy matter, but his 
complicity and the interpolation were discovered. The future 
Secretary Stanton, as special law agent for the United States, 
appeared in California at this iuncture and exposed Gomez's 
connection with the Zimantown and other frauds, and in 1861, 
Judge Ogier vacated the decree of confirmation obtained by 
the conspirators, on the ground that they had " deceived the 
Court and the U. S. Attorney had obtained a decree in his own 
favor under false pretences." However, as Judge Ogier died 
directly, his successor, — who said at the time, " a grosser case 
of fraud has rarely been presented," — was led to invalidate 
Ogier's decree on the ground of defective jurisdiction. The 
same Judge permitted an appeal, and the Attorney General of 
President Lincoln insisted upon it, whereupon tlie redoubtable 
McGarrahan brought suit in a circuit court for an injunction 
to restrain the officers from getting a transcript of the previous 
flagitious history of the case. When the transcript was got 
after long delay, McGarrahan did not proceed to contest the 
appeal on its merits, but moved to dismiss it because five years 
had elapsed since the fraudulent decree was obtained in his 


favor. 'This dodge was ruled out and the Supreme Court of the 
United States then formally reversed the decree obtained by 
Ord and directed the inferior court to dismiss McGarrahan's 

Apprehending the result, McGarrahan, with the shrewdest 
counsel he coujd retain, and abetted by some men of means who 
operated upon" Congressmen and Senators, labored before the 
Department of the Interior to anticipate the Supreme Court 
with a patent for the land where the mine was situated. He 
had thrown his claim into a stock company of five millions of 
dollars as early as 1861, in the city of New York, and some- 
what later when beaten before the court and lobbying before 
Congress, he increased the capital to ten millions. Yet he was 
all the time offering the Secretary of the Interior 822,000 only 
for the same property, as he supposed, locating it in the rugged 
mountains as agricultural land. His success was but partial, 
although the sinister proceedings in the courts below embarras- 
sed the judgment of Secretaries Smith and Usher successively, 
and the celebrated Daniel E. Sickles who afterward did some 
work of the same kind against the Erie railroad company, 
sought to persuade a patent out of Mr. Lincoln. The patent 
was never obtained. The Supreme Court stood fast. And the 
lapse of time, which McGarrahan had sought to use as his ad- 
vocate, had also befriended the miners who were in possession 
of the property. Congress had meanwhile extended the pre- 
emption laws of the United States over mineral lands, and the 
money of the New Idria Company, deposited for the past five 
years (1873) in the Treasury of the United States and received 
as pre-emption money by the receiver, is a part of the perfection 
of a title already well established by twenty years of productive 
enterprise and habitation. 

It was also unfortunate for McGarrahan, of whom we can 
scarcely speak as an individual, so Protean has been his char- 
acter, that the grant of agricultural land under which he claimed 
was found on survey not to include the coveted mine, and a second 
.survey with the points set up to accomplish this purpose failed 


again to " float " the claim far enough. Notwithstanding this 
accumulation of misfortunes, it is the boast of the abiding 
genius who embalms this romance in himself that he still lives. 
As his lawyers express it, with a look calculated* to exact admir- 
ation, " he hangs on." But so do a good many other charac- 
ters around Washington whom we have descried in this book, 
whose limits will not permit us, even if the su^ect were worth 
the space, to speak further of this generic case. Mr. McGar- 
rahan is an Irishman of great combativeness, aM as long as he 
can get a lawyer he will keep some notoriety. Be has had sev- 
eral suits in the local courts of "Washington, twTce suing edi- 
tors who published adverse briefs and once actually seeking to 
compel the Government to give him a patent by ate mandamus. 
The estimable Secretary of the Interior, Honorable Jacob I. 
Cox, was worried out of his office by this Mr. McGarrahan's 
counsel. In our day the McGarrahan case excites a laugh 
when it comes up, as a synonym of a legal itch, incurable, not 
dangerous, but abiding and annoying. 

The power of this claim has lain almost uniformly in the 
allurement it gives attorneys who are promised large contingent 
fees, and in the extensiveness of the stock based upon its tri- 
umph, shares of which were shown before the Judiciary Com- 

What can fight stock ? Stock, which represents nothing 
possessed, but which is yet the corrupter and deceiver of its 
recipient ? Stock, of which the limit in such cases is illimita- 
ble ; because, if the case fails, the stock is worth nothing, and 
if it gains the stock is repudiated. It is stock which feeds cor- 
ruption and prolongs litigation in places like Washington. 

We present below a copy of a share of stock in McGarra- 
han's enterprise ; it represents a mine of which he has never 
had possession. 




No. 104. IncOTV XtilTZ?Yl£: ao{th ° 50 Shares. 

(Of California.) 

This is 'to Certify, That William McGarrahan is entitled 
'to fifty shares in the Capital Stock of the Panoche Grande 
Quicksilv* Mining Company, transferable in person or by 


1 -~ ^ o j.*' - r r — — v 

attorney on the books of the said company, at its office in the city of New 
York on surrendef of this certificate. 

Witness >the Seal of the Company, and the Signatures of the 
President and Secretary, this 21st day of May, 1868. 
Fredf.rick Prank, Secretary. B. O'CONNOR, President. 

For Value Received, I hereby assign and transfer unto 

shares of the within stock, and authorize to transfer 

the same on fhj^ books of the company on surrender of this certificate. 
Dated this day of-; 18 . 

It will be observed that the above certificate of stock is not 
signed nor endorsed, and therefore it would possess no value to 
any one verdant enough to accept it in lieu of services. The 
question occurs : Why was the first five millions of stock ex- 
panded to ten millions unless with the intent to put out the 
second batch of stock in Congress after the claim had been 
taken there and for the first time a plea of equities set up. The 
Honorable Jeremiah Black expressed his opinion of this case 
in his testimony before the Judiciary Committee, March 25th, 
1870. He said: 

" Perhaps this case has some features in it more extraordin- 
ary than any of the others. It is not singular in being founded 
upon a forgery, but the decree of the District Court was ob- 
tained by a fraud more gross than the original fabrication of 
the title, and the object of the claimants was very near being 
consummated by an imposture on' the Supreme Court more 
atrocious than either." 

Two senators, Honorable 0. S. Ferry of Connecticut and 
Honorable George H. Williams of Oregon, the latter Attorney 
General of the United States, at a subsequent day conchided 
their report on the subject of McGarrahan's claim in the follow- 
ing words : 



""Dependent upon the passage of the bill before the Senate 
is a prize of more than half a million of dollars. Politicians, 
lawyers, and editors have taken large shares in the lottery ; 
the professional lobby, both male and female, have been mar- 
shaled, and behind and around McGarrahan is a crowd impa- 
tient of delay and hungry for the spoils of victory. 

The undersigned submit their report with 'the utmost confi- 
dence that the Senate will resist this pressure ; that it will up- 
hold the law as it has been settled by the uniform decision of 
the Supreme Court for nearly twenty years ; that it will pro- 
tect the title to hundreds of millions of property threatened by 
this bill, and that it will decide now for all time that specula- 
tors in Mexican land titles, defeated in the courts of justice, 
will find no favor for their swindling schemes in the halls of 



"Come to my office," said Mr. Burton C. Cook, M. C, one 
day, "and I will show you what I am following up." 

In the second story, and rear part of the house, the lighted 
gas reflectors showed tables strewn with reports and papers, 
yet methodized by a legal hand and ready for reference. Tak- 
ing up a thick book of perhaps eight hundred pages, made of 
bound documents, and endorsed, 

"Land Claims— New Slexico," the Congressman said: 

" Here you will find a list of New Mexican Claims. There 
are nineteen of them reported here. The most audacious one 
is the Beaubean and Miranda claim, which is interpreted by its 
attorneys and owners to enclose 450 square leagues of land, 
or between two millions and three millions of acres." 

I opened my eyes. 

" What pretext can such a claim have to set up ? It is a 
State of itself." 

"It is a principality," said Mr. Cook; "each of these nine- 
teen cases is a principality. I will show you how they came 
to be. 

" Before New Mexico came into the possession of the United 
States, the Mexican Government enacted a land law, an exten- 
sive homestead bill, in character, — which was intended to pro- 
mote emigration to its uninhabited provinces. This law gave 
eleven square leagues of land to certain few persons, to encour- 



age them to settle upon the soil with companies of people. 
Generally, some provision or promise was exacted from the 
grantee, and, as the whole region was unsurveyed, the limits 
of the grant were to be ascertained, and fixed by natural land- 
marks. I will show you, in a moment, how unreliably and 
carelessly the routes and the points of connection of these 
boundaries were placed. By the treaty called Gaudaloupe-Hi- 
dalgo, which conveyed to us the region of New Mexico, we 
were bound to carry out the stipulations of the Mexican Gov- 
ernment as to these grants, and they are to be confirmed by 
direct act of Congress, of course, and then the Secretary of 
the Interior issues a patent for them. Ever since that treaty, 
our Government, in all its parts, has been pestered and absorbed 
with these vague and vastly interpreted grants. My bill, 
founded in equity and the treaty alike, proposes to enact that, 
unless the contrary is directly specified in the original grant, 
each of these grants shall be interpreted to mean eleven square 
leagues and no more, according to the Mexican law under 
which they all arose." 

" Is there anybody of modesty sufficient to demand more 
than that ? " 

"Why, as I have told you, each of these claims has been 
stretched to a principality. The Beaubean claim wants 450 
square leagues. The suggestion of this bill of mine has raised 
a howl from all these claimants. Some of them, I suppose, 
have erected their patents into stock companies, and by the 
united vehemence of their stockholders propose to be satisfied 
with nothing less than the wildest construction of their grants." 

"This, Mr. Cook," said I, "is worse than the railroad land 

" Why, yes ! The railroad leaves us every alternate section. 
It raises the value of the common domain of the country. But 
these grants take everything. They spoil the settlement of a 
region, put in the power of a few to overrule the many in the 
courts of justice and in Congress, and immigration is discour- 
aged before them." 


"I have heard," said I, "that a certain Judge "Watts, who 
was the first Delegate to Congress from New Mexico, and who 
has made a princely fortune out of these claims, is now the 
Attorney-General here for the whole of them." 

"That," replied the reticent man, "I cannot speak about. 
But let us look at some of these claims. Here is the Beau- 
bean-Miranda claim, professing to have been granted by Gov- 
ernor Manuel Armijo, in 1841, to a Canadian and a Mexican, 
and approved, after some litigation, by the New Mexican As- 
sembly in 1844. It was confirmed by the New Mexican Sur- 
veyor-General in 1857, and by Congress ol the same year, 
Judah P. Benjamin, if I mistake not, reporting the bill. 

" In one of Benjamin's reports, he refers to the Yihil claim — 
another one — and showing that the latter is interpreted to mean 
100 square leagues of land, his committee says: This is too 
extravagant for belief. Yet the Beaubean-Miranda claim, 
which the committee reported favorably upon in the same 
breath, is actually here demanding 450 square leagues ! It is 
plain, you see, that the committee supposed the Beaubean 
claim was to be eleven square leagues, according to the Mex- 
ican law." 

" Now let us see the language of Beaubean and Miranda 
petitioning for this grant : ' A grant of land in the now county 
of Taos, commencing below the junction of the Rayado and Red 
River.' Mark you ! nothing is said as to how far below the 
junction. ' From thence in a direct line to the east to the 
first hills, from thence, following the course of Red River, in a 
northerly direction, to the junction of the Una de Gato with 
Red River, from whence, following along said hills to the east 
of the Una de Gato River, to the summit of the table land, 
from whence, turning northwest, following said summit, to the 
summit of the mountain which separates the waters of rivers 
which run toward the east from those which run to the west ; 
from thence, following the summit of said mountain in a south- 
erly direction, to the first hill of the Rayado River ; from 
thence, following along the line of said hill, to the place of be- 


ginning.' Now, you will observe that 'this indefinite descrip- 
tion has a high degree of elasticity if one end is pulled by 
a sharp fellow. In one of the papers accompanying this grant 
is an admission that it does not embrace more than fifteen or 
eighteen leagues. Now, it amounts up to between two millions 
and three millions of acres. You can readily see how this is 
accomplished. The original patentee takes his eleven leagues 
legitimately belonging to him, and, after a while, observing a 
fine piece of pasture land or running brook half a mile be- 
yond, he pulls up his stake and carries it forward. After a 
while he discovers another nice tract, and seizes it, and finally 
his eleven square leagues means anything. On May 29, 1858, 
Mr. Sandidge reported for the Committee of Private Land 
Claims, that there was an unknown quantity of land claimed 
by most of the parties. Says this gentleman in his brief 
report : 

' A survey of the lands, it is presumed, will not be ordered by 
Congress in advance of a recogniton of title.' 

Of the fourteen claims proposed to be confirmed by this bill, 
the area of but five of them is either stated or estimated. 
They are for one league, four leagues, five leagues, seven thou- 
sand six hundred acres, and about twenty thousand acres. 

Whether the other claims embrace a less or greater amount 
is not and cannot be made known from the documentary 
evidence of title forwarded by the Surveyor-General. 

The grant, in each case, refers to some stream, hill, moun- 
tain-top, valley, or other known natural object, for boundary." 

" If you will take this book home," concluded Mr. Cook, 
" and examine it, you will see by what loose beginnings, shrewd 
interpretations, and pregnant collusions between surveyors and 
grantees these old inherited claims have come to be afflictions 
and deadly parasites. They threaten to absorb all the valua- 
ble lands in our Southwestern Territories, to plague the people 
with litigation and monopoly, and perhaps, to work corruption 
in the Federal Legislature. My bill proposes merely to carry 
out the provisions of the Mexican law — to limit each of these 


claims to eleven square leagues, and throw the rest in o the 
public domain for the benefit of the small settler and the gen- 
uine immigrant." 

I carried the book home, and proceeded to wade through its 
half-breed documents — loose, vagarious, sprinkled over with 
Spanish Republican interjections of: " I swear that I do not act 
in malice," " God preserve the Republic," " Nibs and liberty," 
and, after observing here the Martinez claim, there the Valle, 
yonder the Scolly, near by the Tecolate, and so forth, and so 
forth, sleepily, I wondered in what freak of time a Mexican was 
made, and by what unfortunate collusion a Yankee ran against 
him, in order that by the design of the one and the stupidity 
of the other, posterity might go waiting, and Congress be 
resolved to a land office. 

Amongst the pleasantries of Kansas politics is the Black Bob 
land claim, which led to a wrangle between the Senate side of 
the national representation of the Commonwealth, and the 
House side. It seems that a band of Shawnee Indians, headed 
by one Black Bob, their Chief, received, in 1854, thirty-five 
thousand acres of land in Johnson County, Southeastern Kan- 
sas ; or, in other words, about two hundred acres to each man 
in the tribe. The treaty giving the lands specified that they 
should be held in common by the band, but that if any one 
Indian wanted to take his land in severalty he might do so, and 
obtain a patent from the Indian Commissioner at Washington. 
Now, during the war, Quantrell's rebel band drove the Black 
Bobs out of their reservation, and scattered them over the 
Indian Country. It was then revealed to certain Kansas politi- 
cians and speculators, that they might take advantage of the 
severalty clause in the treaty afore-named ; and, accordingly, 
when the Black Bobs returned, after the war, they found the 
most available portion of the reservation — the rich, the well- 
watered, the heavily-timbered tracts — detached from the coun- 
try, and this detachment had been effected by manipulating the 
Indian Bureau in the city of Washington. Sixty-nine Indians 
were represented to have forwarded requests for separate 


patents, and these patents were obtained by a Congressman and 
quietly forwarded to the city of Lawrence, where they were 
secretly kept eleven months in the vaults of the First National 
Bank there ; the few Indians of the sixty-nine who really 
remained alive, knowing nothing about the matter. Of course, 
during these eleven months the speculators and politicians who 
had secured the land patents, were negotiating with the Indians, 
to the disadvantage of the latter, so that if they should consent 
to a sale, the concealed patent would be ready to be brought 
forward in the nick of time, in the closing up of the bargain. 
Bat this was not the worst. About twelve hundred unsuspec- 
ting immigrants had meantime been deluded into the belief, 
that if they would occupy the deserted Black Bob Reservation, and 
make improvements thereon, they should have the right of pre- 
emption and subsequent purchase. These settlers made a quar- 
ter of million improvements upon the Black Bob lands, and now 
they are informed that their titles are defective, while the 
Indians on the other hand, find their country slipping up under 
their feet. 

A set of claims before Congress to which reference has been 
already made dates back eighty years. 

The French claims, so called, were for vessels and cargoes 
seized by the French between 1793 and 1800. The French 
never explicitly recognized these claims, except to offset them 
with others ; but, by the treaty under which France sold Louisi- 
ana, she abated 20,000,000 francs of the purchase money, (or 
$4,000,000), to adjust and pay claims for captures, supplies, 
and embargoes, by which American citizens were sufferers. 

A host of claimants at once appealed to Congress. In 1802 
and 1807, a Committee of Congress reported favorably to pay- 
ing them. In 1835, the Senate passed a bill giving $5,000,000 
to such claimants ; but the House defeated it. They continued 
to importune the two Houses even down to the breaking out of 
the Rebellion ; loafers, and vagabonds, and listless sons of men 
grew up expectant on these claims. Insurers, assignees, job- 
bers and agents, strained their wits and ran off their legs about 


them. But Benton showed that, during the period in question, 
men made fortunes if they saved one ship in four or five from 
the French cruisers ; and the same can be shown to have been 
the case during the Rebellion, when transports commanded 
enormous hire, and our great shippers forsook the sea volunta- 
rily to take army contracts, and manufacture and sell supplies. 
Imagine Vanderbilt, the King of the Sea, losing anything by 
the war, or any ship builder who built a monitor, or any impor- 
ter, or any sea captain. 

As to insurance claims, here is a pithy extract from Benton's 
speech : 

"One of the most revolting features of this bill is its relation 
to the insurers. The most infamous and odious act ever passed 
by Congress was the Certificate-Funding Act of 1793, — an act 
passed in favor of a crowd of speculators ; but the principle of 
this bill is more odious than even it. I mean that of paying 
insurers for their losses. The United States, sir, insure ! Can 
anything be conceived more revolting and atrocious than to 
divert the funds of the Treasury to such iniquitous uses ? It 
would be far more just and equitable if Congress were to insure 
the farmers and planters, and pay them their losses on the 
failure of the cotton crop ; they, sir, are more entitled to put 
forth such claims than speculators and gamblers, whose trade 
and business is to make money by losses." 

Said Benton, " There ought to be some limit to these. presenta- 
tions of the same claim. It is a game at which the government 
has no chance. Claims become stronger upon age, — gain double 
strength upon time, — too often directly by newly-discovered 
evidence, — always indirectly by the loss of adversary evidence, 
and by the death of contemporaries." 

" Two remedies are in the hands of Congress : one to break 
up claim-agencies, by allowing no claim to be paid to an agent ; 
the other, to break up speculating assignments, by allowing no 
more to be received by an assignee than he has actually paid 
for the claims." 

" Assignees and agents are now the great presenters of claims 


against the government. They constitute a profession, a new 
one, — resident at Washington City. Skillful and persevering, 
acting on system and in phalanx, they are entirely an overmatch 
for the succession of new members, who come ignorantly to the 
consideration of the cases which they have so well dressed up." 

" It would be to the honor of Congress and the protection of 
the Treasury, to institute a searching examination into the 
practices of these agents, to see whether any undue means are 
used to procure the legislation they desire." 

Mr. Benton did not then know that the time would come 
when the President's brother-in-law would become a claim 
agent in Washington, and Congressmen and Heads of Depart- 
ments as well. 

Reading an old copy of Basil Hall's travels in the United 
States, during Jackson's administration, in a book which excited 
the wildest expressions of outrage at the time amongst our 
papers, I came to this curious account of how tender they were 
in appropriating money a third of a century ago. 

" One of the first debates," says Hall, who was an aristocratic 
British officer, " at which I was present, related to a pecuniary 
claim of the late President Monroe, of the United States, 
amounting, if I remember rightly, to $60,000. This claim had 
long been urged, and .been repeatedly referred to Committees 
of the House of Representatives, who, after a careful investiga- 
tion of the subject, had reported in favor of its justice. The 
question at length came on for discussion, ' Is the debt claimed 
by Mr. Monroe from the United States, a just debt or not ?' 
Nothing could possibly be more simple. There was a plain 
matter of debtor and creditor, a problem of figures, the solution 
of which must rest on a patient examination of accounts, and 
charges, and balances. It was a question after the heart of 
Joseph Hume, — a bone of which that most useful legislator 
understands so well how to get at the marrow. Well, how was 
this dry question treated in the House of Representatives ? 
Why, as follows : little or nothing was said as to the intrinsic 
justice or validity of the claim. Committees of the House had 

CLAIMS. 283 

repeatedly reported in its favor, and I heard no attempt, by fact 
or inference, to prove the fallacy of their decision. But a great 
deal was said about the political character of Mr. Monroe, some 
dozen years before, and a great deal about Virginia, and its 
Presidents, and its members, and its attempts to govern the 
Union, and its selfish policy. A vehement discussion followed 
as to whether Mr. Monroe or Chancellor Livingstone, had been 
the efficient agent in procuring the cession of Louisiana. Mem- 
bers waxed warm in attack and recrimination, and a fiery gentle- 
man from Virginia was repeatedly called to order by the 
Speaker. One member declared that, disapproving altogether 
of the former policy of Mr. Monroe's Cabinet, he should cer- 
tainly now oppose his demand for payment of a debt of which it 
was not attempted to prove the injustice. Another thought 
Mr. Monroe would be very well off if he got half of what he 
claimed, and moved an amendment to that effect, which, being 
considered a kind of compromise, I believe, was at length car- 
ried, after repeated adjournments, and much clamorous debate. 

The City of Washington is full of hopes, of claims, of linger- 
ers. Heavens ! what a word has that word " CLAIM " be- 
come to me since I have dwelt in Washington ! A word full 
of dreams and jewels, acres of silks, long, luxurious voyages in 
foreign lands, and daughters married to perpetual intellect. 
And yet a word tied down to an unpaid tavern bill, the misery 
of begging a loan, the waiting for a draft, the croon of a shrill 
landlady, sending up her account, the ever half-dread of a 
crushed assurance and a vision dispelled which alone makes 
life endurable ! This is the word Claim — a word between the 
Christian's immortal hope and the beggar's terrible plea. 

I remember once seeing a man with a wild eye. He was 
dressed like a banker. Somebody cried to him : " They have 
passed your claim ?" 

"No, they have just beat me by five votes !" 

He showed a set of white teeth, laughing, but his eye was 
full of drunkenness. I looked into its laugh and shuddered. 
It was the laugh of a son who cries to his father, " Leave your 


house forever ? Yes. With pleasure and forever !" Reck- 
lessness and despair, smile of outer darkness ; the hope of that 
smile is tumbling through worlds of space, like Satan, 
Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky. 

This man, however, happened to be the celebrated Blanton 
Duncan, author of the subsequent Louisville Convention. He 
plunged into politics and got what he wanted. 

Amongst the claims against the Pension Office, after the 
close of the war, was one of a fraudulent nature, for which the 
Congressman who presented it was convicted before the crimi- 
nal court of Washington ; Stokes, of Tennessee, long a mem- 
ber of Congress, and the Radical candidate for Governor of 
Tennessee against Lenter. Senator Brownlow came out 
against Stokes, and was denounced for it as abetting a bolter's 

Stokes is one of the ordinary run of political creatures — 
nearly an old man, bald, wire-pulling, worn down with the 
moral yielding of no original nature. Such men escape from 
society into the boozing-kens of politics, and descend from the 
Capital to the Court of Justice, like the bad Moslem from the 
Bridge of Paradise to Eblis. The details ot this case, particu- 
larly in the published correspondence of Stokes himself, are the 
vindication of the plainest revelations of newspaper correspond- 
ence from this city. Here are some passages written by this 
man to his friend, who has turned State's evidence : 

All I want is to get out of Congress, and I can get up the 
largest claim business ever done. If you fool me I am ruined. 
The letters are coming from all quarters for claims ; we can 
make $500,000 within two years, it you will stand by me, 
and take my advice. Keep back the news from all who will 
not sell their claims.; let no one see the amount of certificates. 
The whole liability for the false swearing is on the men and 

In brief, Stokes obtained claims for a large amount of money 
from a fictitious military organization, and, while a member of 
Congress, used their perjured affidavits to press the case ; and, 


when the matter was about to pass the Department, he and 
his confederate sought, while solely possessed of the secret, to 
purchase the false claims. 

A case that showed the virtue of the worst class of carpet- 
bagging members of Congress came up before the Military 
Committee in 1869, on the suggestion of General Slocum, of 
New York. It referred to certain advertisements, and news- 
paper and private charges, tending to prove that cadetships, 
both at Annapolis and West Point, are openly offered for sale 
and disposed of to the highest bidder. Congress did itself credit 
by unanimously and promptly ordering an investigation of 
the subject, and unless I am mistaken, the Committee of Mili- 
tary Affairs has the material in it to probe the subject to the 
bottom. John A. Logan, who cares for nobody, is the chair- 
man of the committee, and some soldiers upon it are Cobb, of 
Wisconsin, the cool colonel of the splendid Fifth Infantry of 
that State, — in whose camp I have passed many cheerful hours 
on the hills of the Chickahominy, — Negley, of Pittsburgh, Slo- 
cum, who was both a West Pointer and a Major-General, and 
Stoughton, Packard, Asper, Witcher, and Morgan, all good offi- 
cers. I am told that this is the opinion of some members of 
the committee, based upon the appended data : 

An advertisement appeared in the New York Times some 
short time before, offering to dispose of a cadetship to persons 
of means. Just prior to that time, a Western Pennsylvanian 
paper gave the names of two or three persons who had been 
addressed by parties here, offering to place their sons in the 
army or navy. Judge Woodward, of Wilkesbarre, Pa., knew 
a lady who received a like notification. A General (whether 
of militia or volunteers, not expressed) in Connecticut, is said 
to have a son now at one of the Academies for whose appoint- 
ment he paid two thousand dollars. There are other cases 
lying behind these, ii the reports have any foundation, but they 
will probably be difficult to trace out, because the father or the 
son who purchases a place at West Point, will be as sensitive 


to exposure as the Congressman taking his perquisites to the 

A Republican Senator, speaking to me on this matter, said : 
" There are a number of men representing the Southern 
States, who have come in under the reconstruction acts, and 
they are totally irresponsible, because they know that they will 
never come back here again. Therefore they go in for a trade 
on every measure, and are ready, if necessary, to face humili- 
ation and exposure." 

The effect of the cadetship exposure was to expel a carpet- 
bagger from South Carolina, by the name of Whittemore, to 
compel the resignation of Golladay, of Tennessee, and to im- 
plicate Pettis, of Pennsylvania, Sypher, of Louisiana, and 
several others. 

About the same time, a member of Congress, by the name of 
Bowen, of South Carolina, was tried for two separate acts of 
bigamy, and on one convicted, and sent to the penitentiary. 
President Grant pardoned him, and he returned to South Caro- 
lina, to be elected to the State Legislature, and afterward to 
the Sheriffalty of Charleston. 

Bowen, the alleged bigamist, married a sprightly, semi-poli- 
tical lady, bearing the aristocratic name of Pettigrew King. 
This dashing widow of the middle age, has long figured in this 
city as a sort of well-preserved belle. Bowen is a native of 
Rhode Island, fond of female society, and it is supposed that 
having a divorce under way from the first Mrs. Bowen, he was 
unable to resist the impulse of a more congenial matrimonial 
partnership, and somewhat anticipated the action of the divorce 
court. This little indifference to the precise time of things 
constituted all the difference between respectability and big- 
amy. There is the usual complaint on Mr. Bowen's part that 
he is the victim of persecution. Heaven knows that there is 
too much hounding of folks under this Government, and that the 
worst adversary one can make is a rival for honors. The 
most dishonorable road to tread now-a-days is the road to 


honor. Along that road lies such a vista as the late Robert T. 
Conrad made his hero, Aylmere, see : 

Ambition struggles with a sea of hate ; 
He who sweats up the ridgy grade of life 
Finds at each station icy scorn above, / 

Below him hooting envy. 

A formidable interest in this country is the gambling inter- 
est. The telegraph will wink in a moment any probable news 
to Wall street, and if Boutwell ever does resign, probably 
fifty men will know it before he, himself, receives the assur- 
ance. At his elbow — perhaps at the President's elbow — Wall 
street keeps its man, and should the President frown but once 
when Boutwell's name is mentioned, it will be felt in Wall 
street like a portentous eclipse. 

" What do you make out of Washington political life, from 
what you have seen •?" 

This was my question to an eminently practical man, who 
did nOt believe in general principles, and he replied : 

" The feature which is most curious to me is the fact that so 
much legislation goes by ' friends.' Friends in Washington 
never seem to inquire whether a thing be right or wrong, but 
they tie to a man to help him out because they are his ' friends.' 
The word ' friends ' has assumed a curious meaning to me since 
I came here. I hear this or that politician discussed, and 
everything possible is admitted against his character ; but it is 
always said in the end : Jones stands by his ' friends,' and when 
another man comes up who is not accused of any improprieties 
everybody gives him a short damn, and says : ' Oh, he is of no 
use to any body ; he never stood by a " friend " in his life !' 
What makes all this funnier to me is the knowledge and belief 
I have, that these ' friends ' are not paid anything. They turn 
in and work for a ' friend ' like wheel-horses, without reward, 
trampling down and slaughtering for him ; they seem to enter- 
tain no doubt that his cause is perfectly just, and to avoid being 
prejudiced, they never investigate it. How is this ?" 

I endeavored to supply a general principle for my friend, the 


delegate, by saying that this sort of " friendship " grew out of 
party politics, the nominating convention, and the canvass, 
where one's candidate was pushed through by a mob and a 
howl, bonfires, processions, and every possible stultification of 
the individual reason. Every partisan of enough consequence 
becomes a " friend," and this sort of friendship holds activity 
to be its sole criterion. The partisan, bv the time he gets to 
Congress or to office, holds the sum of political virtue to be 
merely personal faithfulness, and thus men like Buchanan reach 
the Presidency, and men like Grant, discovering a temporary 
defection in a " friend," lose confidence in human nature. 

The last Electoral vote, it is to be hoped, has been counted. 
Like the Electors of Germany who had to choose the Emperor, 
the American Electoral College has probably expired. 

It would still be a beautiful form of electing our President, if 
the public's attention to their own affairs permitted, — to give 
the finest modesty in each state the honorable privilege of asso- 
ciating their names with a President's, and, as the sons of Peers 
attend a King to his coronation, to usher in a popular magis- 
trate under the personal escort of a great and noble faculty of 
his fellow-citizens. But what is this- Electoral College of ours 
now-a-days ? A College without scholarship or other endow- 
ments, made up of scrub caucus notorieties often, who are hon- 
ored with such brief public mention as soldiers, travelers, and 
passing notorieties often get under the degree of D. D., L L. D., 
and so forth, Pangloss-fashion. 

The Electoral faculty has come to have chiefly the faculties 
of smelling, tasting, and handling. It was a practical proposi- 
tion ; but, in the rise of the great buccaneer gangs called parties, 
the College has come to be a piece of finery as cumbrous as it 
is dangerous. Therefore, without regret, we wipe away one of 
the antique conceits of our Revolutionary forefathers, and, as 
neither party cares anything about the matter, it will be a pity 
to present it to the people without making sufficient issue to 
bring out a vote. Add, therefore, an amendment suggesting 
the propriety of making the office of Senator elective by the 
people of each state. 


We "have come to that place where a national constitutional 
convention is desirable. 

Everything has been changed by the agencies of steam, in- 
ventions, corporate . movement, prosperity, and emancipation. 
The old Constitution is an honored charter, belonging to the 
dead generations. It can point the moral, adorn the tale, and 
suggest the framework of a new and more accordant plan of 
Republican Government. But, before the centennial year of 
independence, we should hold a grand investigation, directed 
from the advanced thought and observation of the country, and 
independent of party like the Constitutional Convention of 
1787. When the times are out of joint, as we see them now, 
the error lies in fundamentals more probably than in particu- 
lars. We are proceeding like the America subsequent to the 
revolution, which endeavored to make the Articles of Confed- 
eration apply to a total change of society and instrumentalities. 

After the Revolution, they proceeded very much as we have 
done since the Rebellion. They expatriated the Loyalists, or 
Tories, and then softened toward them. They issued' much 
and various currency, and were victims of fluctuation, specula- 
tion, high prices, and corruption. Disorders broke out, and 
two governments in the same states confronted each other. 
Piecemeal remedies were proposed ; but the pressure of busi- 
ness upon Congress prevented any general and landscape dis- 
cussion of the evils of the period, until May 25th, 1787, when 
the Convention to revise the Articles of Confederation met in 
the State House at Philadelphia. 

That spectacle re-presented, would be the noblest centennial 
exhibition for the year 1876. Better begin it on the centennial 
of the outbreak of the War of Independence, in 1874 Ei With 
General Grant, if need be, presiding in the chair, as did Wash- 
ington, and the passions of parties burnt out by their mutual 
and equal exhaustion, let the cry of factions be drowned, and 
the learned and freedom-loving, the thinking and practical 
leaders of the period, re-examine the needs of the time, and 

attend to the harmonious revision of an organic system. 

19 . '. 


Congress will never have the time, and parties will never 
have the honesty, to do the work. That it is needed to be 
done, is plain to any who feel that "the questions paramount 
between capital and labor, producer and carrier, party and pur- 
ity, are not such as can ever be examined by a Congress pos- 
sessing, in so little the confidence of the people as that which is 
passing out and that which is nest to come.' 

A good thing has been going the rounds, attributed to Mun- 
gen, of Ohio. He is said to have walked Up to Whittemore on 
the eve of the latter' s expulsion, last. week and said: 

" Whittemore, I know how you can hold your seat." 

" How ?" asked Whittemore earnestly. 

" Get a Democrat to contest it." 

In 1873, the flagrant case of Senator Caldwell brought out 
prominently the disposition of partisans to cover crimes of each 
other. Caldwell, whose case will be hereafter referred to, had. 
purchased from the legislature of Kansas a seat in the Senate, 
and witnesses came to Washington to make oath to the fact. 
A committee of investigation was ordered, and a majority 
headed by Senator Morton, reported that Caldwell had not been 
honestly elected to his seat. The cloak of the caucus was at 
once thrown over Caldwell, and Senators Colliding, Logan, Car- 
penter, and Nye undertook to save him. 

As I heard the speech on the Caldwell case from Senator 
Morton's lips, while he sat there numb in the extremities, but 
in the head clear, conscious and vigorous, I felt that, all things 
considered, he was one of the strongest characters in the Sen- 

To take position, as Morton did, against Caldwell, required 
some mental and moral courage ; for the Senate is such a little 
body, that fellowship prevails in it as in a female seminary. 
A big conspiracy gathered around Caldwell for his support, led 
by Simon Cameron, whose three cavalry majors were Matt Car 
penter, Ross Colliding, and John Logan. Simon Cameron has 
outlived all the possibilities of vindication, except in the line 
of personal loyalty. He is the apostle of that miserable moral- 


ity which will support what is termed " a friend," no matter 
how black the character may be, provided only that the friend 
returns the said loyalty to the extent of supporting any wick- 
edness in the Senator. If this kind of morality is to prevail 
in public life, what safety will the constituent have ? Public 
duty is not to be measured upon the scale of matrimonial at- 
tachment : and no worse code can be set to a great public body 
than merely friendly inclination. When I hear of a man in 
the Senate standing by his friends in all cases I turn insensi- 
bly to the man who is standing by his country. 

When the Caldwell debate came up, Morton and Conkling fell 
into antagonistic positions. Morton's position was taken like a 
statesman. He saw that the Senate, under existing practices, 
was losing the respect of the country, and that a stop must be 
put to the corrupt practices of Senatorial elections. Caldwell's 
case was eminently fit to make the application ; for Caldwell 
was of such a nature that degradation could not much degrade 
him, nor vindication much vindicate him. Nature seemed to 
have selected this poor little fellow as a convenient instance to 
be made a senatorial example of. Had the person to be de- 
graded served his country in the war, or shown a gallant figure, 
or brought with hint any of those human testimonials Avhich 
give consideration, a chivalric man like Morton might have 
hesitated. I conceive that Powell Clayton is a person whom a 
gentleman might dislike to prosecute for corruption, because 
Clayton was a brave soldier and is a game carpet-bagger. But 
Caldwell is a little Kansas rich man, — nothing more. Mr. Mor- 
ton selected him as the legitimate carcass with which to make 
a missile for the other buzzards of the Senate. 

Mr. Conkling presumed that he could look at his legs and 
walk straight into the Presidency in 1876. Mr. Morton, who 
is a statesman, as his remarkable administration of both Indiana 
and Kentucky showed, during the war, made up his mind that, 
if he was to respect himself and his fellow-Senators, lie must 
make corruptions odious. Hence, Morton made his report, and 
delivered li'is speech in favor of vacating .Caldwell's place. 


Without thinking, without knowing, guided by blind ambition, 
Conkling at once took the other course, expecting to read a 
rival out of the race for the Presidency. No greater compli- 
ment could be paid to the .solid ability and executive vigor of 
Morton than the exteiit of the conspiracy which assembled to 
defeat him. There was that untiring worker, Cameron. There 
was the Jesuitical "and respectable legal columbiad, John Scott, 
— whom some think to be the best lawyer in the Senate, and 
correspondingly inferior as a statesman. There was Anthony, 
of Rhode Island, a mighty consumer of early shad and of can- 
vas-backs, and of course, with enormous bowels of compassion. 
There were infirm Democrats, like Stockton and Bayard, who 
argue in favor of state rights, because they conceive the entire 
state to be their personal selves. There was Wright, of Iowa, 
who wished to save Caldwell to consistently save Clayton. 
There was Howe, of Wisconsin, whose judgment is of no con- 
sequence ■, but whose respectability is an ornament to the firma- 
ment as he is defined against it. I forget how many more en- 
tered into the arrangement to save Caldwell, but they were a 
very scared lot when they knew that the great, black, smithy 
face of Morton was in pursuit of them. 

I did not believe that Morton would make his point, because, 
in the congregation of small particles, you can sometimes dust 
out the eyes of a giant. The moral atmosphere which over 
the Capitol was dark and heavy, in view of the probability of 
corruption being solemnly defined by the Senate as outside of 
its responsibilities. 

But Morton is a man who kindles and enlarges by opposition, 
when aware that his cause is legitimate and popular. Not all 
the outside button-holing of Cameron, nor the froth of Conkling, 
made headway against his determined spirit. He had prepared 
a closing speech to overwhelm Caldwell ; aiid, from what I 
have heard of the contents, of that speech, I presume that, had 
ho delivered it, it would have spread his reputation abroad as 
one of the most determined moral reformers of his time. 
Aware of the calamities impending in that speech, little Cald- 


well, who preserves this redeeming quality, that he can feel 
a little, hastily delivered his resignation to the Governor of 
the State, and disappeared like a will-o'-the-wisp. He would 
have received every vote ol the people who have been corruptly 
elected to the Senate ; and you can imagine how many there 
can be of this class when Senator Anthony expresses the opin- 
ion that no person has been fairly elected from any of the 
Southern States, excepting from Virginia and Kentucky. 

Amidst the scandals and exposures of 1872-8, Postmaster 
General Creswell, with the help of Senator Ramsey in the Sen- 
ate, and Congressman Farnsworth in the House, procured the 
abolition of a very old and extravagant nuisance, the frank- 
ing privilege. The franking privilege, like every evil which 
has become an, institution, had its defenders, and still retains 
them. So had Slavery, and very pious and philosophical ones. 
The human mind can make its deformities and diseases philan- 
thropic, and all the excuses for the franking privilege were di- 
rected from the centre. In the right light of responsible busi- 
ness and a general economy, what was worse than to entrust a 
chap just elected for two years to Congress, with the broadcast 
prerogative to ride down the mails with all his household effects, 
and, as a part of the same privilege, to create effects for the 
purpose of franking them — the wild excuses of public printing 
—which were rapidly assuming the development of an official 
journal (seriously proposed by Henry B. Anthony), to match 
the independent press, and be edited by Congress — arose upon 
the wand of the guileless franker, who saw no use of putting a 
girdle round the world unless it had something else to tie to. 
The "privilege", so-called, cheapened the dignity of Congress, 
made mendicancy brazen, and set up the public deadhead as 
the highest example to man. The use of the privilege made 
the Congressman a mere scrivener, defrauding public business 
of his attention to write all clay meaningless iterations of his 
prostituted name to compliment unsophisticated individuals 
who, for -a Patent Office Report, would abdicate the rights of 
citizenship. The class of public man who is tumbling now, 


like a feather subjected to gravity, is this franker, this scrivener. 
He has written his name, like a blind demagogue, till he knows 
no other dutiful motion. He has sought to make his name a 
household word at the public expense, and, like the wretch con- 
demned by Jupiter to empty a well with a sieve, he hopes to 
accomplish the task of subduing mankind with the franking 
privilege. Hence a little warrantable forgery, and half-a-dozen 
clerks and shysters are invited to take lessons in penmanship, 
to increase the number of hands and cheat the Post-Office fur- 
ther. Finally, dragooning mechanism to carry on his deception, 
this Honorable demagogue procures to be made a series of steel- 
dies, and, like a counterfeiter, he and his band, with inks, 
sponges, and all the other appurtenances of a counterfeiting- 
house, stamp and despatch to a reckless constituency, tons of 
stuff which is nothing else but an obligation imposed upon the 
recipient, without cost to the sender. 

It is by the infinitude of little obligations like this that the 
voter disappears in his manliness, and the demagogue perpetu- 
ates himself. When a tyrant has personally smiled upon the 
majority of his subjects, chucked a large percentage of the babies 
under the chin, and addressed a half-a-dozen of the orthodox 
societies, he has already disarmed the militia. But it so hap- 
pens, in our human nature, that the exercise of these groveling 
processes wears out the demagogue before he has made the 
round of the people. The franking privilege expires, grudged 
by. its abashed defenders, who have other charges to meet, and, 
to escape detection, have thrown their signet-rings into the 
water. As it expires, behold descend from the public gaze 
these greatest of all the frankers : Harlan, Colfax, Kelley! 

Mr. Colfax was much befriended at the time he was shown 
to be involved in the Credit Mobilier exposure, by the Adams 
Express Company, — a corporation which is always timely in 
the delivery of free passes to people in public life. Hence the 
boxes of books which go hence to all parts of the country, not 
being adaptable to the mail-care. A favorite form of swindling 
through the mails, is to bag the books and address them : " Hon. 


Issachar Squpple, United States Senator, Mizzen-Top Halls, 
Hough County, — , care of Reverend Pelopponesus Jones.'-' It 
is all understood beforehand that Jones is to keep the books, 
but Squpple is to address them to himself to avoid postage. 
Can public life be even and direct where such evasions are the 
rule and not the exception ? 

George Francis Train said once, in a speech at Cincinnati, — 
and if John Wesley had said the same, it would have been no 
truer — " The Legislature rides free, the press rides free, the 
clergy ride free. God help us ! who, then, can resist these rail- 
way corporations ? " 

And so we may say of Congress, that it will never act for the 
public good until every perquisite is surrendered, and the Hon- 
orable member is an independent man. 

The Christian has somewhat shared in the optimism of the 
times. Whenever you see a church, as a general thing, yon 
see a mortgage. That mortgage makes an obligation, and 
makes rich men more welcome than moral men. It makes the 
sermons very soft and persuasive, and entirely unlike effective 
Washington correspondence. Add to this mortgage the indis- 
criminate and tremendous emulation of denominations to excel 
in numbers, honors, and dignitaries, — so that it makes all the 
difference in the world whether our Senator "be a Baptist or a 
Methodist, and none whatever whether he be a brave statesman 
or a rapacious hypocrite, — and we have a part of the blighting 
insensibility of the times to personal character. The great de- 
nominations move along like the great parallel railway corpora- 
tions, and the most parvenue corporation ' makes the most 
splutter. If George Whitefield lived in our day, and had the 
spirit of much of the denominationalism and corporate morality 
we see, he would have preached as follows, in place of that cel- 
ebrated sermon he once made on the non-sectarianism of 
Heaven : 

" ' Father Abraham, whom have you in Heaven ? Have you 
any Baptists there ? 



" ' Have you any Episcopalians there ? ' 

" '.None.' 

" l Have you any Methodists there ? ' 

" ' None.' 

" ' Have you any Presbyterians there ? ' 

" < None.' 

" ' Whom have you there, Father Abraham ? ' 

" ' Chiefly members of Congress, vouched for by the Evangel- 
ical Society !" ' 

Such are some of the records of malfeasance, temptation, and 
folly in modern Washington. To collect these scandals and 
put them into a book is not the most agreeable form of compo- 
sition, but the people must know these things in order to be 
advised of the dangers surrounding the precious and blood- 
bought federal state in which are comprised all our hopes, op- 
portunities, and blessings. Around the state lie heaped the 
highest exploits, the noblest thoughts, the dearest sacrifices, 
and the bloodiest crimes of man's long transmigration. With 
all the material progress and the liberalization achieved by the 
past century, the state is still our all. In particulars it is little 
unlike the states of the past ; two furious parties' struggle in 
its porticoes. When at the highest prosperity it seems nearest 
destruction. The most democratic sacrifices for it often turn 
it to be our most formidable tyrant. It is strengthened by re- 
volt, purified by poverty, and corrupted by success. It is worst 
when most glorious, feeblest when widest, most endangered 
when most content. And still we labor upon our 'Babel, know- 
ing all this, because, though we can never build it into heaven, 
we will never build it downward. Build upon it we must, for 
while it is our tower, it is also our home. If it shall so hap- 
pen that heaven, to mock our pride, must shatter this tall 
fabric, and by some destiny of confusion scatter its builders, 
still will its ruins be a part of the earth, and its memory a 
chapter of man. 

It is the most democratic experiment ever attempted by a 
religious people upon the newest and widest area. Like every 


experiment, its materials were of more consequence than its 
chemists ; out of the conditions of the ground, the period, and' 
the mingling people, the government fashioned itself upon the 
prevailing mind of the new state. Sovereignty was conceded 
to begin in the people ; government was intrusted to their rep- 
resentatives, and justice was set apart, without the passions, 
but within the reach of all. To break the force of local whirl- 
winds, parts of the state were decreed supreme in things of 
neighborhood right, and preserving the outlines of their origin 
and tradition. Two spontaneous parties stepped forth from the 
crowd to be the rival champions of this new state, and while 
each of them has at times resisted the other even to violence, 
both have been alternately and equally the rescuers of the 
state, and the state from the people. The country has survived 
every peril. Its young career is written in letters of white, 
upon the debit side of the world. Too precious not to be even 
in peril, too nicely balanced not to be temporarily swayed to 
injustice and license, it is yet far from the condition predicted 
of it by Fisher Ames, who said, " we were fast becoming too 
large for union, too sordid for patriotism, and too democratic 
for liberty." 



The old city hall of Washington has been the seat of Crim- 
inal, Common Law and Equity Courts of Columbia since its 
completion. In the rear stands the jail, near by the site of its 
predecessor. The penitentiary of the District, at Arsenal Point, 
was torn down after the conspirators against the life of Pres- 
ident Lincoln had been confined and hanged there, and felons 
for long terms are now sent to Albany penitentiary. A Reform 
School is, at the present writing, going up on the site of Fort 
Lincoln near Bladensburg. There are five judges on the Dis- 
trict bench, and the Court, as a United States Court, has wider 
jurisdiction than any District Court in the Union. The major- 
ity of the Judges have of late received their places for politi- 
cal services in remote parts of the country. The police system 
of Columbia is regulated by five Commissioners, and admin- 
istered by a Major and Superintendent. There are nine station 
houses. The Capitol police constitute an independent force at 
the Capitol edifice and grounds, numbering about forty private 
watchmen, presided over by a Captain. There are many com- 
missions and minor courts sitting in the city, and the Court of 
Claims in the Capitol building is organized with five judges. 
A grand police court was established in 1869. The police 
court, partaking of its political origin and style of associations, 
has never enjoyed great confidence in the District. 

The Department of Justice is the name of the reorganized 



Attorney General's office. The Attorney General presides over 
it ; there are a Solicitor General, and two Assistant Attorneys 
General. Solicitors in three of the Departments, and an Ex- 
aminer of claims for the State Department. 

The Supreme Court of the United States sits in the Capitol 
Edifice, and it consists of nine Justices', a Clerk, a Marshal, 
and a Reporter. For each Justice there is a Judicial circuit, 
covering a portion of the Union. 

There is one day at Washington when our Government loses 
its democratic form, and puts on the garments and solemnity 
of its monarchical original. That is the opening day of the 
Supreme Court of the United States. 

The precinct of the Supreme Court has an atmosphere and 
a silence about it .which cannot fail to strike the stranger here, 
even when Congress is sitting. As you pass between the Senate 
and the House of Representatives, by that long arched corridor 
which traverses the entire length of the former Capitol, you 
come to a series of rooms which are haunted in their'lobbies by 
no loiterers, lighted by one single concave skylight, a dark and 
avoided place, with closed doors, with a policeman near by to 
say, " walk quietly," " pass on," " the Court is sitting." And, 
perhaps, while you pause inquisitively in the gloom, a rosewood 
door in the corridor opens, a Marshal cries : " Make way for 
ihe Honorable the Judges of the Supreme Court." And all 
bystanders falling back, nine venerable men, of portly girth 
and ascetic countenances, led by one sanctified face, cross the 
corridor and disappear behind a second rosewood door, which is 
closed by a negro, funereal as a colored Baptist preacher on 
immersing day. The effect of this procession on the casual 
mind is, that somebody is going to' be hanged or buried alive, 
and I have always noticed that any vagrant negroes waiting 
near, slink off with manifest perturbation, as if they were pre- 
sently to be seized and handed over to the Holy Inquisition, and 
burned up with their photographs in Fox's Book of Martyrs. 

The officials of this portion of the Capitol, also, are quite 
different from the smart, intriguing or parasite-looking persons 


who belong to the legislative departments. The Clerk has been 
here forty-two years ; the Master of the Robes appears never to 
have been born at all, but to belong to a sort of judicial anti- 
quity ; old colored men of a . former generation, whose, lives 
heaven has bountifully lengthened out, because not even heaven 
could replace them, keep the ante-rooms and go upon the errands 
with a consistent shuffle, and with shoulders bearing a vast 
responsibility. Rip Van Winkle, when he got up on the moun- 
tains amongst the gray-faced pirates, found just such a lot of 
cheerful ancients as constitute the helpmates of the Supreme 
Court. The furniture of this part of the Capitol, also, is of a 
material and style not current in the rest of the building. We 
see no black walnut chairs, no oiled sideboards or desks, nothing 
whatever of the smart and patented forms of iron notable in 
the wings. Everything here is rosewood or mahogany, built at 
a time when the wood was well seasoned, when we had no 
affectations of Etruscan, or modern Italian, or Arabic forms, 
and followed the classics or simplicity. The furniture, indeed, 
is what remains of the old Capitol, and the old life of the 
Republic — sofas, often covered anew, within whose frames the 
brethren of John Marshall sat ; high-backed chairs, which have 
borne up the snake-like saintliness of Aaron Burr, or George 
Clinton's solid old age. The desks, the book-cases, the tables 
are the same which belonged to the United States Senate in 
former days ; for, until the completion of the present grand 
Senate Chamber, the quarters of the present Supreme Court 
were occupied by the Senate, and the Court possessed what is 
now the . Supreme Court library, directly beneath its present 
Chamber. We shall see further on, that the form of the rooms 
is peculiar, and in keeping with its mystery and respectability. 
The link between the heroic past and our burlesquing pre- 
sent was, until recently, the Marshal ; for attached to this Court 
is a Clerk, a Marshal, and a Reporter — all of them officers 
supposititiously removed from partisan influence, and there- 
fore honorable as the highest positions of merely transient 
occupation. To be Clerk of the Supreme Court is to be in better 


regard socially, and in better self-esteem, than to be Clerk of 
Congress, or even Secretary of the Senate ; for latterly, par- 
tisanship has laid hands upon the Senatorial places, and com- 
prised them in the general scramble of honors. The Marshal 
of the Supreme Court is now Mr. John G. Nicolay, long Secre- 
tary of Abraham Lincoln, and successor of Mr. Richard C. 
Parsons, of Cleveland, Ohio, who had been a Speaker of Assem- 
bly, Consul to Rio Janeiro, and had filled other places of trust, 
and who was the friend of Governor Chase before he became 
Chief Justice. While his fine straight figure and scrupulous 
dress seemed like a gorgeous veneering upon this funereal piece 
of furniture, he had yet elderly tastes in upholstery, and a good 
eye for respectable effects, which has made the new fixings of 
the Court a match for past patterns. Closer inspection proves 
that, if peculiar, the judicial apartments are still the most com- 
fortable and inviting in the edifice, tawdry 'in nothing, and 
apparently copied from the solid and substantial interiors of 
English Judicial halls, while much of the rest of the Capitol is 
decorated after the worst French models, in stencils, mouldimgs, 
florid carpetings, and " loud" styles of furniture. It is the 
difference between Mount Vernon and Fiske's Opera House 

The Marshal takes us, before the opening of the Court, into 
his own exquisite little room, in ground-plan like the section 
of a dome, lighted by one large window which opens upon the 
noble portico of the Central Capitol, and in the concavity at 
the foot stands a most graceful marble mantel and fire-place, 
slender in its traceries, as if of vegetable growth. The floor 
is covered with a velvet office carpet, whose prevailing tint is a 
rich golden brown, and the pattern is in miniatures. A bust 
of Chief Justice Chase, and a proof copy of Marshall's Lincoln, 
adorn the walls. A rosewood washstand and table, a safe and 
chairs, complete the equipment, and it is such a room as 'one 
with some grand literary intention would wish to be imprisoned 
in for the remainder of his life. The dimensions of this room 
are twenty-five by ten feet, with a most noble ceiling in height, 


and of so simple moulding and proportions, that it might be 
the chamber of Apollo himself. 

The Marshal of this Court is its executive officer; he serves 
its processes personally or by deputy, and makes the disburse- 
ments for its upholstery, and is its- ceremonial officer, like the 
Gentleman-Usher to the Black-Rod in the House of Lords. His 
salary is $4,000 a year. 

Next we visit the private room of the Attorney-General of 
the United States, by crossing a vestibule carpeted in velvet 
also, and evading the Marshal's door, to the hall of the Supreme 
Court. In a nook behind the Judges' platform is the most 
lovely resting place in "the world, its furniture a rosewood secre- 
tary, one soft high-backed chair, one other chair, and a fire- 
place ; a luxuriously warm carpet covers the floor, and a tall 
window peeps out upon the portico and its statuary. "While 
the .Court is sitting, the Attorney-General must spend much of 
his time here, convenient to his interests in the Court. He 
has $6,000 a year, three clerks, and a messenger. The dimen- 
sio»s ol the Supreme Court Chamber are seventy-five feet 
chord, and forty-five feet in height ; beneath it is the valuable 
law library, occupying the old Supreme Court Chamber. 

The present Court Chamber is the noblest apartment in pro- 
portion and architecture, considering its small size, in the 
United States, and claimed by connoisseurs to be the most beau- 
tiful court-room in the world. Until the winter of 1860 it was 
the historic Senate Chamber, and it gave up its legislative func- 
tions at the brink of the new national era. It is. resonant to 
the reverent man, with the echoes of fifty years of republican 
eloquence, and it is one of the few apartments which seem 
worthy and, indeed, almost conscious of their associations. 
Imagine the interior of one-half of a low dome, — the floor of 
a semi-circle, and along the diameter,, upon a raised platform, 
the cushioned high-backed seats of the Judges, with the apex 
of the half dome just above the middle chair, where the Chief 
Justice is to sit. The height of the dome above the Chief 
Justice is forty-five feet, the greatest width of the room is sev- 


enty-five feet, and of course its transverse line is just half this 
distance. The whole floor is carpeted with the same rich gold- 
en-brown medallion which we have seen on the Marshal's 
floor, and this gives modern warmth and. strength of color to 
the fine classical architecture of the room itself, which is of 
unique purity. Behind the Judges a screen of Ionic columns 
of green breccia, with white marble capitals supports a most 
airy gallery, over which the daylight streams through a soft 
curtain of crimson, giving a delicate tint to the stuccoed panels 
in the domed ceiling, and flooding the floor with the grateful 
light of perpetual autumn. On the wall in front of him, every- 
where equidistant, the Chief Justice can see, set upon consoles, 
busts of each of his predecessors save Taney — and admirable 
.names and faces are they, with concentrated eyes regarding 
him, their living suggestor: Jay, Eutledge, Ellsworth, Mar- 
shall. Had ours been a republic with an elective life-magis- 
trate, perhaps the number of these Judges would have rep- 
resented the number of administrations we should have had — 
six instead of eighteen. 

Before the Judge is a narrow bar and railing, with crimson 
screen ; there are nine chairs ; on either hand are doors of 
official entry and exit, and opposite the main doors for specta- 
tors. The Clerk, reporter, and crier have desks beneath the 
Judges' ; the main central area of the court-room has a line of 
baize-covered tables, with the chairs of attorneys interspersed, 
and within the bar are two short rows of chairs for spectators 
or witnesses, while without it is a cushigned bench for mere 
listeners or intruders, but seldom are these seats filled, for 
there is nothing of dramatic intensity to be seen or heard in 
the Supreme Court. It is a tribunal of ultimate authority 
within the- region of pure law, and does but listen to counsel, 
and express judgment after the calm manner of blind Justice 
herself. • 

When a stranger of an uneducated eye enters this Supreme 
Court-room, he feels the sincerity, so to speak, of its atmos- 
phere and influence, after being stunned, confused, and bewil- 


dered by the innumerable new and frequently meretricious 
objects of the great bulk of the Capitol. At a glance he per- 
ceives all that is, the repose of the place relieves his eye, and 
whatever is said, though without ornament or earnestness, is 
impressed upon his reason. So it happens that quite, a dull 
man can sit here attentively for an hour to hear an application 
of argument to law, while the boldest philippic in the House 
of Representatives would impress him like the eloquence of a 
great bell hammer. The dimensions of the hall dignify the 
human figure, and its acoustic properties are magical. 

The Marshal leads the way across the platform of the Judges. 
"We stop awhile to try the effect of a rest in the chair of a 
learned Judge, and it is wonderfully introductory to sleep. One 
of the Judges said sometime ago that the greatest trial he had^ 
was to keep awake. 

". The proceedings of the Court are so quiet and rational," 
he said ; " so seldom can one hitch, or smile, or be diverted, 
that often, after sitting up till 1 or 2 o'clock, reading upon a 
case, or writing a decision, I feel a constant fear of falling to 

On the side of the court-room opposite the Marshal's office 
is. the " Judges' Walk," a softly carpeted hall, without furni- 
ture or ornament, through which, preceded by a Deputy Mar- 
shal, the whole bench, in single file, enter upon or depart from 
their sittings. The shape of this hall is polygonal, with the 
side nearest the Court convex. A rosewood door closes this 
walk from the great corridor of the Capitol, across which we 
are led by the Marshal, and a bell at the rosewood door oppo- 
site calls up the Master of the Robes, a negro gentleman of the 
olden time, with law and frost showing venerably in his combed 
wool. He is dressed in statesman's black, and knows a lawyer 
from any other sort of a gentleman, and a Judge from a law- 
yer. It is needless to say that he does not know politicians at 
all. He recognizes them as necessary evils ; their salutations 
he may reply to; but there is an expression in his elderly, 
wrinkled face, and demure eye, which says plainly as a sermon: 


" This acquaintance goes no further ! " What reporter or 
author ever held an "interview" with this reverent old bach- 
elor in the law ? He probably never spoke to a newspaper 
man, or a literary man in his life ; for he has descended to us 
from that period when Journalist forebore his iconoclastic hand 
from jurists and from statesmen, when duels were fought with- 
out published comment, and errors of speech or appetite found 
no Cerberian scribe near by, to bark the frailties of greatness 
around the world. Yet, what delicious pinches of original 
anecdote he may have to tell ; what titbits of hearsay, and 
morsels and giblets of incident to enliven a dozen books of 
biography; for he has smoothed with his own hand the wrinkles 
from the robes of thirty years of Justice and of Justices. 

Behind the door of the room which we have entered hang 
the long silken gowns of the Judges of the Supreme Court. 
There is one learned Judge, living in one of the leading West- 
ern States, whose robe requires fourteen yards of black silk to 
encompass his ample form, and as all the Judges pay for their 
own gowns, here is a small matter of seventy dollars to come 
out of the salary of a blind man — all Judges being blind. 
Every Court-day morning, the standard-bearers of our juris- 
prudence must have this black flag run up on them by their 
colored attendant. The gowns are buttoned up- the back, and 
reach to the boots, and their capacious sleeves fall in many a 
learned fold to the wrist. The likeness they bear in these 
clerical garments to the College of Cardinals, led •an Irish gen- 
tleman from Milwaukee to say that he saw the President and 
the rest of the government going to mass as " illigant" as 
Cardinal Wiseman himself. Not less extravagant have been 
tlie ultra-democratic expressions of some Republican partisans, 
who, during the Impeachment trial, and while the Supreme 
Court was considering the Reconstruction cases brought before 
it, were loud in their denunciation of this bench as a set of 
aristocrats, wearing" Monarchical costume." The cosmopolitan 
and philosophic mind of General Butler led this sentiment ; 
and so high did the feeling go that I expected daily to hear of 


a mob rushing on the Judges as they went to open Court, 
throwing them down on the marble floor, and then and there 
stripping them to their boots and breeches. There is really no 
need for this costume; but what Judge cares to lead in a -move- 
ment for its abolition ? The Judges sit for life, so that there 
is no new bench coming in at any one time ; the old Judges' are 
thus used to the costume, and the new one does not wish to be 
a meddler. It is too small a subject for a jurist to consider, 
and too big a one for an outsider to influence. 

The room into which we have come is the Judges' " robing 
room," a long, lofty, and imposing apartment, carpeted by a 
large-figured tapestry, in tolerably bright colors, and lighted 
by three lofty windows, which are shaded with crimson damask 
curtains. A beautiful marble mantelpiece, of an old pattern, 
stands in the middle of one of the wide sides, and facing this, 
across the width of the room, is the high-backed hair-cloth 
chair of the Chief Justice. At his right hand is a long table, 
with chairs reaching down it, and stationery, paper knives, 
etc., for each judge. The judges are careful of their stationery, 
unlike congressmen, and many of the utensils are quite worn, 
while I never saw a congressman resume his old implements 
at the beginning of a new session. Thus it happens that, 
including the salaries of the judges, the expenses * of the 
Supreme Bench of the United States are' less than those of 
any United States Circuit Court which exists. 

Between the Chief Justice and the fire is a hair-cloth dais, 
or bordered lounge, low and without a back, apd each of its 
three seats is nearly a good square in surface. This accom- 
modates the three Daniel Lamberts of the bench, and I am 
' told that the Supreme Court has never been without a large 
proportion of Colossuses upon it. Wanted, somebody to 
explain the reciprocal nature of victuals and law, appetite and 
justice ! On the mantel is an ebony clock ; on the other side 
of the fire are two other huge lounges ; a couple of antedilu- 
vian escritoirs, such as Noah might have furnished the ark 
with, occupy corners. The gas hangs respectably. 


This is the retiring room of the judges, their place of 
assemblage, and their parlor. Its end window commands the 
terraces, and a fine view of the City of Washington. This 
room was long the chamber of the Vice-Presidents of the 
United States, and it bears out the air of that middle period 
of our history between the aristocratic and the commercial 

Opening off the robing room is the office of the Clerk of the 
Supreme Court, Daniel Wesley Middleton, a narrow apart- 
ment, ornamented with an oil painting of his predecessor in 
the clerkship, and a portrait of a long-departed justice. Here, 
also, and in the next and larger room, where the half-dozen 
assistant clerks have desks, the furniture is old and picturesque, 
and much of it was formerly used by the Secretaries of the 
Senate. This series of rooms looks out upon the city, and the 
terraced gardens of the Capitol. Mr. Middleton is the bea'u 
ideal of an old office-holder, and, as I have said, he has been 
here forty-two years, or since the era of Van Buren. He has 
saved a pleasant fortune, is highly respected, is full of bon 
hommie and reminiscence, and seems capable of surviving 
forty-two years of jurisprudence to come. 

All the above rooms lie upon the second or main floor ot 
the Capitol, and form a square, cut in half by the great cor- 
ridor ; but, under these rooms is still another series of 
judicial apartments — a law library, a large room where the 
judges retire to read law, and to vote upon their decisions, and 
apartments for bathing, etc. 

The " deciding room " is large, carpeted, tolerably gloomy, 
and furnished with the same marble pattern of fireplace and 
furniture, while shelves of books surround it, and a large table 
extends down the centre. Seated at the head of the table, the 
Chief Justice presides, while decisions are being debated. 
Nearly 170 decisions were rendered during the last session, 
beginning in December, 1868, and the judges have (in the 
words of an official) to work " like dogs," reading, hearing, 
writing, conferring, so that they have been at last relieved 


from their immense circuit duty, and will, hereafter, sit seven 
months of the year at Washington. 

At the novel time of opening court, the justices' filed to 
their chairs, and the crier made announcement : 

" Oyez ! Oyez ! All persons having business before the 
Supreme Court of the United States are requested to draw 
near and give attention, for their honors, the Justices of the 
Supreme Court, are approaching to take their places upon the 
bench. God save the United States." 

Here the Deputy Marshal bows in the Court ; gravity takes 

the place of bustle, and the highest tribunal is waiting for a 


. The only scandal attending the Supreme Court in recent 

' times was the selection of two justices in 1S70 to reverse a 

former decision on the subject of legal tender payments. 

The Local District Bar is made up of a hundred or two 
hundred lawyers. Some of them are fair, some shrewd. 
Dauclge is the head of the b f ar. Bradley, senior, does business 
now in a weak way through his son, a fat, curly-haired, 
amiable young man. Old Bradley is rich, venomous, played- 
out, though he can still wriggle a little, like the tail of a snake 
till sundown. The sun of slavery is set. The strut which 
poor human nature gave itself because it could lick a nigger 
if it wanted to, is degenerated to a grovel. Wide lie' the poor- 
house doors. The sons inherit the thirst of their fathers. 
Chiefly, and out of the distilled blood of Africa, the cup is 
benzine, which is burning up the residue of the rebellion. As 
it was said three thousand years ago,' so still it must be said, 
" The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether !" 

" Ned" Price, is one of the oddities at the bar of the Dis- 
trict. Price used to be a prize fighter, and like all retired 
pugilists he opened a Faro Bank in Washington. Being a fel- 
low of adventure and natural talent, he familiarized himself 
with two or three foreign languages, and finally studied law in 
/< the office of Carusi, the son of an old dancing master hero. 
He passed the examination and was admitted to the bar. So 

the supreme court. 809 

that, next to divine or religious influence, a good round head is 
the best redeemer of one's self. Price may take a " stake" now 
and then to this writing, but I think not. He is a stalwart and 
amiable rough, standing up like a bull, and smiling like a broad 

Dick Merrick is the light tragedian of the bar — the stage- 
struck attorney, who loses sleep unless he makes a speech 
between the rising of the sun and the going down thereof. 

Philip Barton Key used to be District-Attorney of this Court. 
He once had before him a man who slew another for debauching 
his home, and his labors to convict the other were long and 
protracted. It being proved that the party killed was a profes- 
sional seducer, Key made a speech to his memory, concluding 
with : 

" No longer seek his merits to disclose, 
Nor draw liis frailties from their dread abode, — 
There they alike in trembling hope repose, — 
The bosom of his Father and his God." 

In a few months the didactic seducer was himself made a 
street spectacle of retribution. The Sickles trial happening in 
this old court room, was the social witches' meeting before the 
Rebellion. Stirring up the poison cauldron of a woman's dis- 
honor and a Capital's rottenness, the demons and hags collected 
there, went off on a broomstick to debauch the Thanes and 
Clans of the nation to treason — Ould and Winder to starve 
prisoners ; some here, some there. Double, double, toil and 

One of the longest and most remarkable trials here, was that 
of the case of Tillotson Brown's widow. She had been the 
mistress of Brown for many years, and had a daughter grown 
up, and, I think, married. She proved that Brown had married 
her at last, and the legitimacy of the daughter came up. Tillot- 
son Brown was brother to Marshall Brown, now a neighbor of 
General Grant, and one of the owners of the valuable Brown's 
Hotel property, and Marshall Brown contested the girl's legiti- 
macy on behalf of the rich estate. This opened up the vile 
particulars of a delicate question, and trial after trial prolonged 


the stench of the case. At last the widow won it, and she 
lives now, within view of the court room, in one of the most 
sumptuous residences of "Washington. Few who pass it, and 
see the carved bombshells upon the brown stone balustrade, 
know the social explosion that happened around that dwelling. 
The carriage goes and comes ; the yard is full of flowers ; 
canary and mocking birds sing in the windows. This is Wash- 
ington. This is the world ! 

The town is changed for the better now. People go to church, 
and notably to the churches of dominant New England faiths, in 
greater numbers and gravity than they used. The low places are 
barred fast of Sabbaths. Men keep at home after tea time, and 
family life has one quiet night in the week. 

To return to Senator Drake and the Court of Claims, of 
which he is Chief Justice. That Court sits under the library 
of Congress, in the Capitol Building, and has five Judges, four 
of them placed there in 1863, when the number and the juris- 
diction were increased. The venerable David Wilmot, the 
ardent Pennsylvania free trader, has been replaced upon this 
bench by Samuel Milligan, 1870. The retiring Chief Justice 
Joseph Casey, is a native of Maryland, but he represented the 
Harrisburg (Pa.) District in Congress, twenty years ago. The 
other Justices, Peck, Nott, and Loring, are all grave, judicial 
men, who have served faithfully for smaller salaries. Judge Peck 
lives at Georgetown. Judge Nott has just been able to build 
himself a small, tasteful residence here. This Court was hooped 
round with safeguards from the beginning, and its record is 
believed to be dutiful and honorable, a strict equity tribunal, 
operating under the laws, and responsible, in test cases, to the 
ruling of the Supreme Court. It was especially provided in the 
terms of its organization, that members of Congress should 
not practice before it. 




On a Tuesday morning, the 14th of April, 1789, a venerable 
old gentleman, with fine eyes, an amiable countenance, and 
long, white locks, rode into the lawn of Mount Vernon, coming 
from Alexandria. Two gentlemen of the latter town accompa- 
nied him. It was between 10 and 11 o'clock. A negro man 
sallied out to take the nags, and the old gentleman, entering 
the mansion, was received by Mrs. Washington. 

" Why, Mr. Thompson," said the good lady, " where are you 
from, and how are your people ? " 

" From New York, Madame," answered the old man. " I 
come to Mount Vernon on a good errand, for the country at 
least. The General has been elected President of the United 
States under the new Constitution, and 1 am the bearer of the 
happy tidings in a letter from John Langdon, the President of 
the Senate." 

The General was out visiting his farm, however, and the 
guests were entertained for two or three hours, as we take care 



of our visitors in the country nowadays. A glass of the Gen- 
eral's favorite Madeira, imported in the cask, was probably not 
the worst provision made for them, and ,the cheerful gossip of 
Mrs. Washington, who had known Mr. Thompson, and visited 
his house in Philadelphia, helped to enliven the time. This 
grave and respectable old man was the link between the new 
Government at New York, and the new Magistrate at Mount 
Vernon. Charles Thompson had been the Secretary through 
all its eventful^ career of the Continental Congress which had 
directed the cause of the Colonies from desultory revolt to 
Independence and to Union, and now he had ridden over the 
long and difficult roads to apprise the first President of the 
Republic of the wishes of his countrymen. At 1 o'clock, Gen- 
eral Washington rode into the lawn of Mount Vernon,' in ap- 
pearance what Custis, his adopted son, has described : 

An old gentleman, riding alone, in plain drab clothes, a 
broad-brimmed white hat, a hickory switch in his hand, and 
carrying an umbrella with a long staff, which is attached to his 
saddle-bow. The umbrella was used to shelter him from the 
sun, for his skin was tender and easily affected by it's rays. 

Washington greeted Mr. Thompson with grave cordiality, as 
was his wont, inquiring for his family, and divining already 
the object of his visit, broke the seal of John Langdon's official' 
letter. Dinner followed, and, while the visitors retired to con- 
verse or stroll about the grounds, the President-elect wrote a 
letter to the President of the Senate, and sent' it forthwith to 
the Post-Office at Alexandria by a servant. The letter was as 
follows : ' 

" Mount Vernon, April 14th, 1789. 

" Sir : — I had the honor to receive your, official communica- 
tion, by the hand of Mr. Secretary Thompson, about 1 o'clock 
this day. Having concluded to obey the important and flatter- 
ing call of my country, and having been impressed with the 
idea of the expediency of my being with Congress at as eariy 
a period as possible, I propose to commence my journey on 
Thursday morning, which will be the day after to-morrow." 

This done, the rest of the day passed in conferences between 


Washington and his wife, in the preparation of his baggage 
for the not-unexpected journey, while meantime the distin- 
guished guest was amused by the young official household in 
the library and grounds. 

At Mount Vernon was one of the brilliant Bohemians of his 
time, David Humphreys, colonel, poet, biographer, translator 
of plays,, foreign traveler, courtier, and delightful fellow gen- 
erally, with locks like Hyperion, a " killing " countenance, and 
no fortune to speak of; so he had become a permanent guest 
of his old General. To him Thompson was turned over for 
hospitality, and we may suppose them mixing the grog, discuss- 
ing France and the pleasures of the Palais Royale, and guessing 
the names in the new Cabinet with the staid Secretary, Tobias 
Lear, a New Englander, like Humphreys ; while, perhaps, the 
latter recited his tolerably bad rhymes : 

" By broad Potomack's azure tide, 
Where Vernon's mount, in sylvan pride, 

Displays its beauties far, 
Great Washington, to peaceful shades, 
Where no unhallowed wish invades, 

Retired from fields of war." 

The estate Of Washington in this pleasant springtime of the 
year, was well adapted, with its deep shade and broad, peaceful 
landscapes, to be the home of the most honored American. 
Amidst the long grass of its lawn stood the mansion of Mount 
Vernon, such as we behold it now, when it has ceased to be- 
come a home, and has become a shrine, — a low-roofed, painted 
straight edifice, with a high piazza on the river-front, which 
covers the two stories ; and the whole is built of wood, cut in 
blocks to imitate stone. The light columns which uphold the 
porch are also of wood, sanded. There are dormer windows 
in all the four sloping sides of the roof, and a cupola full of 
wasps' nests, surmounts the whole, from which you can see the 
long reaches of the river. The house and immediate out-build- 
ings could be built, at the present price of lumber and labor, 
for about thirty thousand dollars. But nobody would now 


fouild such a house. Instead of the high, hollow portico cover- 
ing the whole front of the building, we would now put a low 
veranda, and upper balconies. Instead of imitating stone, 
we would carve the wood into pleasing designs, or use stone 
outright. The interior of the mansion is pleasantly habitable 
to this day, but the naked, white-washed walls look very blank. 
The rooms are generally low of ceiling, and we would think it 
a hardship to live in the room where the Hero of the American 
hemisphere died. Neither gas, nor water-pipes, nor stoves, nor 
wall-paper, nor a kitchen under the mutual roof,— but simply a 
library, a drawing-room, with a carved marble-mantel, and an 
old, rusty, fine harpsichord ; a hall through the house, — a 
reaching up for grandeur with feeble implements ; some plain 
bed-chambers, and a few relics of the great man ; — this is 
Mount Vernon as an abandoned home. The house is now 
above a century and a quarter old, and good for another century, 
if pieced up and restored from time to time. Back of it a pair 
of covered walks reach to the clean negro-quarters, between 
which is seen a rear lawn, with garden-walls on the sides ; and 
across the lawn passes the road to Alexandria and Fredericks- 
burg, so often ridden by the General. The gardens are of a 
showy, imposing sort. He inherited this house from his half- 
brother, and lived in it for fifty years, not counting seven years 
during the Revolution, when he was absent. 

Washington, the son of a second wife, had been married to 
a widow fifteen years when he was put at the.head of the Colo- 
nial armies. He belonged to a military and commercial fam- 
ily; rather New Englanders in thrift and enterprise than like 
the baronial planters round about them. But he was a man 
who grew in every quality, except pecuniary liberality, and no 
book-keeper in Connecticut watched his accounts with more 
closeness, although he was very rich and childless. He was 
the most perfect fruit of virtuous mediocrity, and the highest 
exemplar of a' disciplined life which the scrupulous, the pru- 
dent, and the brave can study. Every triumph he had was a 
genuine one, if not a difficult one. Guizot, the best student of 


his larger life, who had in his eye of neighborhood the careers 
of all the great men of that quarter of a century, including 
Bonaparte, Talleyrand, and Wellington, said- that Washington's 
power came from his confidence in his own views, and his res- 
oluteness in acting upon them ; and that no great man was 
ever tried by all tests and came out so perfectly. Jefferson 
said that he was the only man in the United States who pos- 
sessed the confidence of all, and that his executive talents were 
superior to those of any 'man in the world. He had wonderful 
power in influencing men by honorable sentiments, and he 
never gave a man an office to quiet him or gain him over. His 
character was a little picturesque, but ho was as plain as Lin- 
coln in the parts which he himself prescribed. 

In that day Mount Vernon had all the fame it still retains. 
Engravings of it were common in Europe and America, and it 
was a place of resort for the curious and the eminent, the 
stranger and the politician, because its proprietor stood first 
amongst the private gentlemen of the world. His battles and 
his wisdom, his Republican principles, and the purity of his 
character, recommended him to men as the living model of all 
that Rousseau had delineated — a great unselfish citizen. The 
time had come when the vague, poetic, and earnest aspirations 
of humanity inclined towards this stamp of man. Europe did 
not contain his like. The mighty writers there had filled the 
people with a scorn for kings, while yet they had not created 
one citizen-hero. Distance led them to enchantment with the 
name and person of Washington ; and this was he, at home 
amongst his slaves, with his busy, knitting housewife, on the 
high, sequestered shores of the Potomac. He was aware of his 
fame, for every mail expressed it in the eulogies of authors, 
journalists, statesmen, and even princes. The gravity of pub- 
lic thoughts and things had deepened the shadows of a life by 
temperament reflective, almost austere ; and this planter and 
"farmer had grown judicial in his calmness and equipoise, so 
that he was already a Magistrate in intellect, and his election 
did not, probably, so much as ruffle his feelings. 


His mansion was a museum, illustrative of the ordinary 
culture and tastes of a planter of his period. In his parlor, 
doubtless, were these effigies which he had ordered from 
France thirty years before. 

" A bust of Alexander the Great ; another of Julius Caesar ; 
another of Charles XII. of Sweden ; another of the Duke of 
Marlborough, of Prince Eugene of Savoy ; and a sixth of Fred- 
erick the Great, King of Prussia. 

" These are not to exceed fifteen inches in height, nor ten in 

" Two wild beasts, not to exceed twelve inches in height, nor 
eighteen inches in length. 

■" Sundry small ornaments for chimney-piece." — (Washing- 
ton's directions to his foreign factor.) 

There had been exemplars of Washington at a younger 
period, when the military art was his delight. During the long 
war of the Revolution, his estate had escaped pillage, and what 
had since been collected were mainly the gifts of friends, or the 
reward of arms and eminence. But it appears from what re- 
mains to us, that Mount Vernon was supplied with all the com- 
forts and many of the - luxuries of his time, — a period when 
foreign art and literature were at a high standard, and skill 
and science had begun to look for their patrons below Palaces 
and Ministers 'of State, to the firesides of the prosperous mid- 
dle-class. The social revolution had already transpired in 
America and in Europe. Commerce, education, and accumu- 
lated wealth had insensibly triumphed over ranks and reveren- 
ces. The Democratic age had not fairly dawned, but the men 
lived who were to lead it, and at the head of the middle class 
of conservative Republicans in America stood the men of home- 
steads, broad lands, and large crops, like Washington. They 
were yet to have a few years of semi-supremacy ; but a fiercer 
wave of equality was gathering in the distance, which should 
spare Mount Vernon alone amongst family shrines. 

Washington was rich, but not the richest of the planters. 
At least two Presidents were to succeed him, better burdened 


with money and lands. He was, however, always above the fear 
of poverty, excepting the possible calamities of war ; and the 
personal supervision of as many acres, servitors, and interests 
would be thought onerous in our time. . Yet he w a s ever seek- 
ing, later in life, to increase the revenues of his farms, to lease, 
or to colonize them. 

His property was chiefly in stock, slaves, and land, but the 
land was already showing signs of giving out, and he made 
reference more than once to Pennsylvania and Maryland, 
" Where their wheat is better than ours can be, till we get into 
the same good management." 

Probably no account of his estate can be found so reliable as 
that of the President himself, written to Arthur Young, a cele- 
brated English authority on agricultural matters, just at the 
close of his first term of office : 

" No estate in United America," said "Washington, " is more 
pleasantly situated than this. It lies in a high, dry, and healthy 
country, three hundred miles by water from the sea, and, as 
you will see by the plan, on one of the finest rivers in the 
world. Its margin is washed by more than ten miles of tide- 
water ; from the bed of which, and the innumerable coves, in- 
lets, and small marshes, with which it abounds, an inexhaustible 
fund of rich mud may be drawn, as a manure, either to be used 
separately or in a compost, according to the judgment of the 
farmer. It is situated in a latitude between the extremes of 
heat and cold, and is the same distance by land and water, 
with good roads and the best navigation, to and from the 
Federal City, Alexandria, and Georgetown ; distant from the 
first, twelve ; from the second nine ; and from the last, sixteen 
miles. The Federal City, in the year 1800, will become the 
seat of the r G-eneral Government of the United States. It is 
increasing fast in buildings, and rising into consequence ; and 
» will, I have no doubt, from the advantages given to it by 
nature, and its proximity to a rich interior country, and the 
Western territory, become the emporium of the United 


" The soil of the tract of which I am speaking is a good 
loam, more inclined, however, to clay than sand. From use, 
and I might add, abuse, it is become more and more consol- 
idated, and, of course, heavier to work. The greater part 
is a grayish clay ; some part is dark mould ; a very little is 
inclined to sand ; and scarcely any. to stone." 

" A husbandman's wish would not lay the farms more level 
than they are ; and yet some of the fields, but in no great 
degree, are washed into gullies, from which all of them have 
not yet ^recovered." 

" This river, which encompasses the land the distance 
above mentioned, is well supplied with various kinds of fish 
at all seasons of the year ; and in the spring, with the great- 
est profusion of shad, herring, bass, carp, perch, sturgeon, 
&c. Several valu/vble fisheries appertain to the State ; the 
whole shore, in short, is, one entire fishery," 

" There are, as you will perceive by the plan, four farms be- 
sides that at the mansion-house ; these four contain 3,260 
acres of cultivated land, to which some hundreds more ad- 
joining, as may be seen, might be added, if a greater should 
be required." 

Again, he wrote to a foreign factor, to whom he shipped 
his tobacco, pretty much as Horace Greeley might write : 

" I am possessed of several plantations on this river (Poto- 
mac), and the fine lands of Shenandoah, and should be glad 
if you would ingeniously tell me what prices I might expect 
you to render for tobacco made thereon, of the same seed as 
that of the estates, and managed in every respect in the same 
manner as the best tobaccos on James and York Rivers 

It was the custom of the Virginian planters, living upon 
tide-water, with the coasts deeply indented everywhere, to ship 
their crops direct from their estates to Bristol or London, 
Washington wrote : " The best Potomac harbor (Piscataway) 
is within sight of my door. It has this great advantage, be- 
sides good anchorage and lying safe from the winds, that it is 


out of the way of the worm, which is very hurtful to shipping 
a little lower down, and lies in a very plentiful part of the 

The manner of putting crops aboard ship was generally by 
the use of scows, which could come up the shallow streams. 
Thus, he wrote : 

" So soon as Mr. Lund Washington returns from Frederick, 
I shall cause my wheat to he delivered at your landing, on 
Four Miles Run Creek, if flats can get to it conveniently." 

A few passages from the correspondence of Washington will 
make plain his mode of life and his business habits. He was 
always minute in his instructions to his superintendent, as 
thus, when closing up a notification to build roads : 

" At all times they must proceed in the manner which has 
been t directed formerly ; and, in making ihe new roads from 
the Ferry to the Mill, and from the Tumbling Dam across the 
Neck, till it communicate with the Alexandria road, as has 
been pointed out on the spot." 

This shows that, though a planter, he was always a man of 
affairs, having personal cognizance of all belonging to him. 

Again : 

" When the brick work is executed at the Ferry Barn, Gun- 
ner and Davis must repair to Doque Run, and make bricks 
there, at the place and in the manner which have been 
directed, that I may have no salmon bricks in that build- 

" Oyster shells should be bought wherever they are offered 
for sale, if good, and on reasonable terms." 

As a landlord and creditor, Washington was exacting but 
not harsh. The year he was elected President, he wrote as to 
the collection of rents and debts : 

" Little is expected from the justice of those who have been 
long indulged." 

To his wife, grandchildren, and his own nephews and'nieces, 
he was provident, but still never lavish. In the same year 
as above he wrote to certain needy ones : 


" You will use your best endeavors to obtain the means for 
support of G. and L. Washington, who, I expect, will board, 
till something further can be decided on, with Dr. C^aik, who 
must be requested to see that they are decently and properly 
provided with clothes from Mr. Porter's store. He will give 
them a credit on my becoming answerable to him for the pay- 
ment. 'And, as I know of no resource that H. has for supplies 
but from me, Fanny will, from time to time, as occasion may 
require, have such things got for her, on my account, as she 
shall judge necessary." 

These paragraphs convey to us, as fully as the twelve volumes 
of Sparks, the tone of the first Magistrate in affairs of private 
life. His estate > like that of many Virginians, labored under 
disadvantages irom the unthrifty agriculture of slaves, and the 
sort ot improvidence which large estates seem to necessitate. 
Seven years after the period at which this chapter begins, he 
said : 

" From what I have said, that the present prices of land in 
Pennsylvania are higher than they are in Maryland or Vir- 
ginia; although they are not of superior quality, two reasons 
have already been assigned : First, that in the settled part of 
it, the land is divided into smaller farms, and is more im- 
proved ; and, secondly, it is in a greater degree than any other 
the receptacle of emigrants, who receive their first impressions 
in Philadelphia, and rarely look beyond the limits of the State. 
But besides these, two other causes, not a little operative, may 
be added, namely: that until Congress passed general laws 
relative to naturalization and citizenship, foreigners found it 
easier to obtain the privileges annexed to them in Pennsyl- 
vania than elsewhere ; and because there are laws there for 
the gradual abolition of slavery, which neither of the* two 
states above-mentioned have at present, but which nothing is 
more certain than that they must have, and at a period not 

Unfortunately the first President faibd to give his active 
support to emancipation, and those laws were delayed" for 
seventy years. 


The neighbors of "Washington were, in some cases, of even 
greater social consideration than himself. Of the adjoining 
State he said : 

" Within full view of Mount Vernon, separated therefrom 
by water only, is one of the most beautiful seats on the river 
for sale, but of greater magnitude than you seem to have 
contemplated. It is called Belvoir, and belonged to George 
William Fairfax, who, were he living, would now be Baron of 
Cameron, as his younger brother in this country (George 
William dying without issue) at present is, though he does 
not take upon himself the title." 

The land of the neighborhood, at the time we have indicated, 
sold at a good price, for he says at Fairfax : 

" A year or two ago, the price he fixed on the land, as I 
have been well informed, was thirty-three dollars and a third 
per acre." 

In the lifetime of Washington, the slow and henceforth 
steady decay of Virginia lands b^egan. His own cherished 
fields steadily declined after his death, and will not now, 
probably, bring as much per acre as when he died. His chief 
crops were wheat and tobacco, and these were very large, — so 
large that vessels sometimes came up the Potomac, took the 
tobacco and flour directly from his own wharf, a little below 
his deer-park, in front of his mansion, and carried them to 
England or the West Indies. So noted were these products 
for their quality, and so faithfully were they put up, that any 
flour bearing the brand of " George Washington, Mount 
Vernon," was said to have been 'exempted from the customary 
inspection in the British West India ports. Such was the 
home of Washington, where he spent the days of his private 
life, and his domestic enjoyments were of a dutiful rather than 
of an enthusiastic sort. 

His mother lived until he was fifty-seven years old, but his 

father died when he was eleven. His wife was rich, but not 

accomplished, and he set free 124 slaves at his death. He 

always rose to the needs of history, and, if his household seems 



to lack pathetic and feminine features, that is, perhaps, 
because he was never out of the public regard, because he had 
no children, and also, possibly, because he was unfortunate in 
all his early loves. There are half-a-dozen cases on record of 
his direct rejection by ladies to whom he proposed. 

Bishop Meade, the devout and careful chronicler of Vir- 
ginia, received the following note from one of the family of 
Fauntleroy : 

" My grandfather (who was called Colonel William Faunt 
Le Roy) was twice married. By the first wife he had one 
daughter (Elizabeth), who became the wife of Mr. Adams of 
James Biver, after having refused her hand to General George 

On this the Bishop remarked : " It would seem from the 
foregoing, and from what may be read in my notice of Mr. 
Edward • Ambler and his wife, and from what Mr. Irving and 
other writers have conjectured concerning Miss Guymes of 
Middlesex, and perhaps one other lady in the land, that 
General Washington, in his earlier days, was not a favorite 
with the ladies. If the family tradition respecting his repeated 
rejections be true, — for which I would not vouch, — it may be 
accounted for in several ways. He may have been too modest 
and diffident a young man to interest the ladies, or he was too- 
poor at that time ; or he had not received a college or univer- 
sity .education in England or Virginia ; or, as is most probable, 
God had reserved him for greater things, — was training him 
up in the camp for the defense of his country.' An early mar- 
riage might have been injurious to his future usefulness." 

Much of his life was passed in camps, and in lonely surveys, 
and he made himself by acceptance, instead of choice, a rigid 
historical being. He was worth, during all his married life, 
about $100,000 sterling, not counting his slaves as mer- 
chandise, and it paid him not above 3 or 4 per cent in money, 
or about $20,000 per annum. 

In tin* quiet, almost elegant home, he received many 
princes, exiles, and refined travelers, lured so far by the 


report of his deeds and character. He disappointed not one 
of whom we have any record, and his neighbors, as well as 
those remote, forgot his austerities in his integrity. We could 
have placed no more composed and godlike character at the 
fountain of our young State; and his image, growing grander 
as the stream has expanded, is reflected yet in every ripple of 
the river. We have grown more Democratic since his time, 
and we often wish that Washington had been more pliable, 
popular, and affable ; but it is to be remembered that he was a 
Republican, and not a Democrat. As one of his federalistic 
observers has said of his day : 

" Democracy, as a theory, was not as yet. The habits and 
manners of the people were, indeed, essentially Democratic 
in their simplicity and equality of condition, but this might 
exist under any form of Government. Their Governments 
were then purely Republican. They had gone but a short way 
into those philosophical ideas which characterized the subse- 
quent and real revolution in France. The great State papers 
of American liberty were all predicated on the abuse of 
chartered, not abstract rights." . (Note — Gibbs' Life of 

As an original suggestor, Washington was wise, without 
genius. His designs were all bounded by law, the rights of 
others, and the intelligent prejudices of his time. He told 
Coke, the Methodist, that he was inimical to slavery. The 
better elements of our age were all intelligent, and growing in 
him. But the mighty whirlwind raised by Rousseau, and by 
Jefferson, blew upon the country, and we are what we are, 
while Washington and Lafayette, soldier and pupil, stand the 
only consistent great figures of the two hemispheres, — the last 
Republicans of the school of Milton and Hampden. Such as 
he was, there he lived, and the vestiges of the breaking up of 
the past are all round his honored mansion, — the key of the 
Bastile ; his surveyor's tripod, which first measured the 
streams beyond the Alleghanies, and, at last, the forts which 
the North planted against "Virginia slavery. 


The life of Washington at Mount Vernon, subsequent to the 
War, had been lived with that rigid method which he pre- 
scribed for himself at an early age. Temperate, yet not 
disdaining the beverage of a gentleman of that time, and 
dividing the day between clerical and out-of-door duties', he 
had escaped other diseases than those incident to camp-life, 
and he was not fond of the prolonged convivialities of the 
table. His breaklast hour was seven o'clock in summer, and 
eight in winter, and he dined at three. He always ate 
heartily, but he was no epicure. His usual beverage was 
small-beer or cider and Madeira wine. He took tea and toast, 
or a little well-baked bread early in the evening,- conversed 
with or read to his family, when there were no guests, and 
usually, whether there was company or not, retired for the 
night at about nine o'clock. 

He loved Mount Vernon, and had never expressed a desire to 
change its retirement for the concerns of a denser society ; but 
the wish seems to have been fixed in his heart at an early period, 
to see the banks of the Potomac become the seat of a great city. 
Annapolis, Baltimore, and Fredericksburg, were, each a stout 
day's journey from his estate, and Georgetown and Alexandria, 
were his post-office and market places. It had now been fifteen 
years since he had considered the subject of breaking his alle- 
giance to his King and England, and fully half the time had 
been spent away from his estate. 

During more than seven years of the war, Washington had 
visited his pleasant home upon the Potomac but once, and then 
only for three days and nights. Mrs. Washington spent the 
winter in camp with her husband, but generally returned to 
Mount Vernon during his campaigns. 

From this mansion he had departed to take part in the first 
Continental Congress, as one of the four delegates from Virginia, 
when, in the language of a diligent historian, on Wednesday 
morning, the 31st of August, 1774, two men approaching Mount 
Vernon on horseback, came to accompany him. One of them 
was a slender man, very plainly dressed in a suit of minister's 


gray, and about 40 years of age. The other was his senior in 
years, likewise of slender form, and a face remarkable for its 
expression of unclouded intelligence. He was more carefully 
dressed, more polished in manners, and much more fluent in 
conversation than his companion. They reached Mount Vernon 
at 7 o'clock, and after an exchange of salutations with Wash- 
ington and his family, and partaking of breakfast, the three 
retired to the library, and were soon deeply absorbed in the 
discussion of the novel questions then agitating the people of 
the Colonies. The two travelers were Patrick H?ury and 
Edmund Pendleton. A third, " the silver-tongued Cicero" of 
Virginia, Richard Henry Lee, was expected with them, but he 
had been detained at Chantilly, his seat in Westmoreland. 

All day long these eminent Virginians were in council ; and? 
early the next morning, they set out for Philadelphia on horse- 
back, to meet the patriots from other Colonies, there. Will 
Lee, Washington's huntsman and favorite body-servant, was 
the only attendant upon Washington. They crossed the Poto- 
mac at the falls, (now Georgetown,) and rode far on toward 
Baltimore before the twilight. On the 4th of September, the 
day before the opening of the Congress, they breakfasted at 
Christina Ferry, (now Wilmington,) and dined at Chester ; and 
that night Washington, according to his diary, " lodged at Dr. 
Shippen's in Philadelphia, after supping at the New Tavern." 
At that house of public entertainment, he had lodged nearly 
two years before, while on his way to New York, to place young 
Custis, his wife's son, in King's (now Columbia) College. 
With that journey in 1774, began the glorious period of this 
Virginia planter's career. Even at that date, he drew upon 
himself, the admiration of the best of his contemporaries, and 
John Adams — now elected Vice-President with him — wrote to 
Elbridge Gerry — subsequently to be Vice-President with Presi- 
dent Madison — this warm compliment in his favor : 

" There is something charming tome in the conduct of Wash- 
ington. A gentleman of one of the first fortunes upon the 
continent, leaving his delicious retirement, his family and friends, 


sacrificing his ease, and hoarding all in the cause of his coun- 
try ! His views are noble and disinterested. He declared, 
when he accepted the mighty trust, that he would lay before us 
an exact account of nis expenses, and not accept a shilling for 

The history of the war which speedily followed that first Con- 
gress is mainlj the career of Washington. He was a persever- 
ing, a prudent, and a magnanimous captain, and his character 
grew rourid and lustrous as the independence of the country 
advance^. Foreign nobles, countries, and officers did him rever- 
ence, 2nd his behavior was always modest, grave, and yet cheer- 
ful, so that he neither made enemies nor provoked severe 
analysis ; and he set the example of obedience to the civil 
powers, so that his army graduated in the love of law, and their 
transition to citizens became as natural as his own to the First 
Magistracy. If he had not the military genius of Bonaparte, 
he had not also the love of blood and of violence in the same ar- 
bitrary degree. As has been well said," war was to him only a 
means, always kept subordinate to the main and final object, — 
the success of the cause, the independence of the Gountry." As 
a captain, he was subject to none of the petty and irritable jeal- 
ousies so common with conquerors ; and he saw, without chagrin 
and ill humor, the successes of his inferiors in command. Still 
more, he supplied them largely with the means and opportunity 
of gaining them. Only once was he tempted with the anony- 
mous proffer of a crown, and he rebuked it ; and the fomentor 
of the single conspiracy against him wrote in remorse, " you 
are, in my eyes, the great and good man." 

When the armies disbanded, and he had bidden adieu to his 
companions and staff at New York, and delivered up his com- 
mission at Annapolis, he made one or two of those long journeys 
of which he was so fond, and which acquainted him so well 
with the needs and capacities of the future State, and then he 
sought the society of his wife and the congenial pursuits of 
agriculture. But one of his fame and large acquaintance could 
no more be permitted to dwell in solitude. For some time, 


indoed, after his return to Mount Vernon, Washington was in 
a manner locked up by the ice and snow of an uncommonly 
rigorous winter, so that social intercourse was interrupted, and 
he could not even pay a visit of duty and affection to his aged 
mother at Fredericksburg. But it was enough for him at pres- 
ent that he was at length at home at Mount Vernon. Yet the 
habitudes of the camp still haunted him ; he could hardly realize 
that he was free from military duties ; on waking in the morn- 
ing, he almost expected to hear the drum going its stirring 
rounds and beating the reveille. 

As spring advanced, however, Mount Vernon, as had been 
anticipated, began to attract numerous visitors. They were 
received in the frank, unpretending style Washington had deter- 
mined upon. It was said to be pleasant to behold how easily 
and contentedly he subsided from the authoritative Commandqr- 
in-Chief of armies, into the quiet country gentleman. There 
was nothing awkward or violent in the transition. Mrs. Wash- 
ington, too, who had presided with quiet dignity at headquar- 
ters, and cheered the wintry gloom of Valley Forge with her 
presence, presided with equal amenity and grace at the simple 
board of Mount Vernon. She had a cheerful good sense, that 
always made her an agreeable companion, and was an excellent 
manager. She had been remarked for an inveterate habit of 
knitting. It had been acquired, or at least fostered, in the 
wintry encampments of the Revolution, where she used to set an 
example to her lady visitors by diligently applying her needles, 
knitting stockings for the destitute soldiery. While Washington 
was waited upon by scholars, inventors, suggestors, and people 
with projects of material, moral, and intellectual improve- 
ments, — and the two hundred folio volumes of his writings and 
correspondence attest how engaged he was for the five years 
between the peace and the Presidency,— his wife was busied 
with the care of her orphan grandchildren. 

There was another female dear to the newly-elected President, 
and he kept her in filial remembrance at the very moment of 
his greatest promotion. It was growing late in the evening of 


the day on which our chapter opens, when "Washington mounted 
his horse, and, followed by his man Billy, rode off intoethe 
woods of Virginia with speed. His destination was Fredericks- 
burg, nearly forty miles away, with two ferries between, — one 
at the Occoquan, the other at the Rappahannock. His purpose 
was to see his old mother, now over eighty years of age, and 
drawing near the grave. It had been long since he had visited 
her, but he could not feel equal to the responsibilities of his great 
office until he should receive her blessing. Few candidates for 
the Presidency in our day would leave a warm mansion, filled 
with congratulating friends, to ride all night through the chilly 
April mists, to say adieu to a very old woman. But thus piously 
the administration of Washington began. He passed old Po- 
hick Church, of which he was a Vestryman, — soon to tumble 
to ruins, — crossed the roaring Occoquan, and by its deep and 
picturesque gorge, where passed the waters of the future bloody 
Bull Run, and, by night, he saw the old churches of Acquia 
and Potomac rise against the sky ; he saw the decaying sea- 
port of Dumfries. In the morning, he was at Fredericksburg, 
and his mother was in his arms. Marches, perils, victories, 
honors, powers, surrendered to that piteous look of helpless 
love, too deep for pride to show through its tears. And the 
President of the new State was to her a new-born babe again, 
— no dearer, no greater. He was just in time, for she had but 
the short season of summer to live, and, like many dying 
mothers, life seemed upheld, at four-score and five, by waiting 
loye till he should come. History is ceremonious as to what 
passed between them, but the parting was solemn and touch- 
ing, like the event. 

" You will see me no more," she said, " my great age and 
disease warn me that I shall not be long in this world. But 
go, George, to fulfil the destiny which Heaven appears to as- 
sign you. Go, my son, and may Heaven's and your mother's 
blessing be with you always." 

Passing from that dear, pathetic presence, the President 
elect, perhaps, did not hear the plaudits of the people in the 


streets of Fredericksburg. He rode all day by the road he had 
come, and reached Mount Vernon before evening, having ex- 
hibited his power of endurance at the age of 57, by riding 
eighty miles in twenty-four hours. 

His good wife had made all ready ; the equipage and bag- 
gage were at the door next morning ; and, leaving Mrs. 
Washington and mpst of the household behind, he set out for 
New York at 10 o'clock on Thursday, the 16th of April, 
accompanied by Thompson and Humphreys. The new State 
was waiting anxiously for its Magistrate. 




My first visit to Bladenstmrg was made in 1868. I walked out 
from Washington city with a newspaper friend to see the dueling- 
ground. Four miles carried us through the recently raised and 
dismantled breastworks. Then we passed the District line, 
where it runs through the cool and cedary lawn of John C. Rives, 
of the Washington Globe, putting his barn in Columbia, his house 
in Maryland. Here, under a maple tree, we saw old Commo- 
dore Barney's spring, where he drank when wounded at the 
battle of Bladensburg ; across the road the old salt had planted 
his battery; the road descended to the creek and ravine, where 
a bridge, about as long as your parlor floor, gave crossing, and 
on the Washington side ot the bridge, at a bare, grassy dip, in 
the meadow, Decatur and many a man, as vain and brave, fell, 
pistol in hand. It was the dueling ground. 

From a little knoll beyond the bridge, we looked upon the 
village of Bladensburg, and the slope of battle-field that gently 
fell from our feet, to the little sandy running river. The whole 
area of the original battle was not half a mile square, Barney's 
combat being a separate matter, fought on the third reserve 
line. Just by Bladensburg, whose old crook-gabled houses 
came nearly to the water's edge,*we saw the new bridge reach- 
ing out towards us, and a few yards below it, the broken abut- 
ments and piles of the old battle bridge. The new bridge was 



about fifty yards long, the old one not more than thirty yards. 
In less than two minutes a man on a run could cross either,, 

Bladensburg itself we could see to be a village built along 
two roads, which forked off at the other end of the bridge, one 
by the stream's bank northward to Baltimore, the other keep- 
ing straight east to Benedict, on the Patuxent river. The 
course of the river was away fro. a the village, south-westward. 
The village contained about three hundred people. The river 
was a shallow creek, now fordable everywhere, except after a 
rain, and running over sands and pebbles. A flat lay on each 
side of it, with bushes and stout old gum and ash trees grow- 
ing therein ; the village also lay on this flat, so low that after 
every rain-storm the people, go muskrating around their back 
yards. Hills lie on each side of the flat, and tie river escapes 
through dogwood and shell-bark thickets. Desolation was 
Bladensburg to look at, and low-lived wickedness to know. 

It stands on the border of the great Calvert property. The 
house of George Calvert, lineal descendant of Lord Baltimore, 
the founder of Maryland, is only two miles out of the village on 
the Baltimore side, — a white mansion a hundred feet long, with 
wings and lofty portico, standing in an estate of two thousand 
acres, much of which is a spacious lawn, guarded by the por- 
ter's lodges, in the English style, and stocked with white deer, 
by George Calvert, more than sixty years ago. 

The old stage coaches, up to the railway era, used to go daily 
from Washington to Baltimore, through Bladensburg, — through 
fare two dollars and a-half in gold, — and in that period the 
town was called thriving. To see the Northern Congressmen 
and their wives go by, the young tobacco planters used to gath- 
er, and while waiting for the stage they fought chickens and 
dogs, or gambled in a bar-room. 

Then this poor abandoned creek was a river, and boats of 
light draught came up to the piers of the old bridge and " load- 
ed" with tobacco. Money was paid down on the spot for the 
virgin leaf, and rum and nigger-driving stood on their deck of 
cards and thought it was a civilization. But steam, like a bolt 


of lightning, struck this cross-roads Sodom. The railway left 
it to one side, and then the land, when it was ploughed for corn 
and wheat, ran off with the rains and filled up the river. No 
masted boat has been seen at Bladensburg for eighty years. 
Of course the merchants subsided into retailers of candles and 
chiccory. The very old houses grew older with poverty. Had 
it not been for a chalybeate spring just above the town it-would 
have been totally forsaken- This Spring brought now and 
then an idle carriage load of ladies to taste the water, and as 
the village laid just over the district line,' dueling parties of 
politicians came now and then to put up their horses before 
they aimed at each other's hearts. . The young planters lurking 
around the taverns to see these, became mere gamblers and 
debaters by profession at last. The nigger and tobacco had 
their revenge. I doubt that any miserable village in the country 
is so blasted with ignorance and wickedness as this. Blood, 
taken in colder blood, cries out and against it. Not one, but three 
different sites of duels, lie in its environs. The battle of 1814, 
that might have dignified the place, seemed to feel the loath- 
some future of it, and the troops lost heart, and ran like cravens. 
Yet, near the place, was born the Attorney-General and bi- 
ographer of Patrick Henry, Mr. William Wirt. " Happily, he 
moved away ! " said my companion, as we crossed the plank 

Going up into the town — under great, elephant-backed roofs 
of over-lapping, octagonal-shaped shingles, where monstrously 
huge chimneys, perhaps of imported brick, buttressed up the 
gables, by lazy porticoes to private homes where green benches 
invited to a dreary rest, by dogs pursuing pigs in sheer malic- 
iousness, and brutal roosters crowing at the sport, by signs that 
flapped for unre turning customers, and by negro kitchens in the 
rear of every dwelling, with open colonnades of brick between, 
by one sandy, sunny, parched street — we passed the sign-board 
of the deserted " Exchange Hotel," and came to the sign of 
" The Branch Hotel," where Mr. Sutor, proprietor, stood in the 
act of chucking his jack-knife' into his own gable. Near by 


were hitching sheds and stables for traveling carriages that 
come no more. Within was a bar, decorated with two nude 
studies of almond-eyed females, and the valuable portrait »of 
Mr. John Surratt, a young gentlemen who murdered a tyrant 
and gave his own mother up to be hanged. Mr. Sutor, of 
whom I had heard before, was at this time regaling a couple 
of young gentlemen with a humorous depiction of General But- 
ler stealing " spoons," although he called them " spunes." 
The bar-keeper was ' tnus addressing a young gentleman who 
walked to and fro : " Latherby, you mousn't take yer hists so 
airly in the mornin'. The black Jack man'll git ye agin." 

This playful remark I interpreted to mean that Mr. Latherby 
was just getting over a spell of delirium tremens. 

However, after some difficulty in getting Mr. Sutor off the 
Dpoon question, which could only be done by allowing him to 
curse General Butler for five minutes uninterruptedly, he said 
with that familiar leer which implies social " cleverness " in 
Maryland, that he had seen many a " juel," had fed many a 
" jueling " party, and that wounds had been dressed and limbs 
amputated frequently in his parlors. There were persons older 
than himself, he modestly added, living in town, who had seen 
the most famous duels of them all, and he indicated a druggist 
across the way who was present at the celebrated Graves and 
Cilley combat. 

I asked to be given some of the scenes cotemporary with 
these actions. 

" Oh !" said Mr. Sutor, " the seconds and very often the 
principals used to come out yer the night befo' the juel, with 
their friends, and have a high ole Kerouse up stairs., Mos' all 
of 'em got ripe and drunk befo' daylight, and some of 'em ovo- 
slep 'emselves, so they couldn't see no juel at all." 

Here Mr. Sutor laughed very loudly. His friends laughed. 
All laughed. 

" They never told us, of course, about the juel ; but we alius 
knowed it. We could tell. We'd see 'em walk behind the 


house and slip across the bridge and, of course, we didn't see 
nothing. Oh ! no. Neither did he see them spunes !" 

Here there was an exhilarating, laugh all round. 

A friend of Mr. Sutor now interpolated some interjective 
contempt for certain Methodists of the Bladensburg region, who 
had tried to stop duelling on their side of the district-line even 
by force. He said they were durned intermeddlers, and didn't 
like fun no-how. 

" They got no ijee of a gentleman's quarrel. They want to 
go to law on a question of honor." 

" They' want them spunes !" said Mr. Sutor, to his own great 

" I tell you, gentlemen," said Mr. Sutor, breaking off, " Bla- 
densburg' s the only complete town in the United States. It's 
all yer. It aint got many spunes, but it's a complete town." 

(Mr. Sutor meant to rest upon the fact that Bladensburg had 
ceased to grow.) 

At this time there were indications that our new acquaint- 
ances wanted less talk and more treating. Insinuations were 
made that a game of gallop, sledge, or draw poker would im- 
prove the spirit. While declining these hospitable invitations 
we saw one of the young Calverts (called here Caulverts) rid- 
ing by on a fine blooded horse. They are capable, recluse far- 
mers, and I believe, have eschewed the religion of their fathers, 
being now hardshell Episcopalians.. 

A last effort to induce Mr. Sutor to give us his reminis- 
cences of the Battle of Bladensburg developed a certain 
memory of* Mr. Sutor having been sent by his father to drive 
home a certain pig,' and while on the way, a desperate shower 
came down, which Mr. Sutor remembered to have " spiled " a 
certain alpaca jacket that he wore. This alpaca jacket was 
a very fine piece of material, being furnished with a peculiarly 
handsome and nondescript gilt button. But what all these 
pigs, jackets, rain storms and buttons had to do with the 
Battle of Bladensburg was still a matter of mystery when we 
bade -Mr. Sutor good-bye. 


" I say ! " said Mr. Sutor, when we got down the street a 
piece, halloing, " You won't try your luck at keyard's ? " 

" No ! thank you ! " 

" And you won't forget them spunes ? " 

We went gladfully out of this manner of village to the old 
dueling ground, very silent and uncommemorated, with a new 
hill-top fort looking over into it, and sat there, reflectively 
thinking over the barbaric years when the vanished master 
was the type of manliness. 

A few remembered incidents stood prominently out. 

Jonathan Dayton, Senator from New Jersey, challenged the 
great De Witt Clinton, Senator from New York, to fight him 
in 1803. Clinton apologized. 

In 1819, just over the district line in Maryland, General 
Armistead T. Mason, Senator from Virginia, was shot dead by 
John M. McCarty, his cousin, in a duel with muskets and ball. 
They stood only ten feet apart. 'Mason deserved his death, 
and so did McCarty. They first challenged each other to fight 
at three feet, then at three inches, and, at last, to sit on a 
powder barrel and blow each other up. 

In 1820, in the. month of March, Stephen Decatur was shot 
dead on this old Bladensburg cockpit, by James Barron, a 
fellow officer. They stood eight paces apart. 

A baser duel was that of Fox and Randall, the latter a 
Treasury Clerk, who seduced the daughter of his Washington 
boarding-house keeper in 1821, and then challenging her 
pitying friend to fight at eight paces, killed him instantly. 

These bloody deeds are little in vogue to-day, since they 
stopped the sale of niggers, and cooled honor down with a 
little wholesome poverty. 

Henry Clay's celebrated duel with Randolph occurred in 
Virginia, above Chain Bridge, at the base of one of the strong 
earth forts erected in the late war. On the site of the combat 
thousands of men have since encamped. It is about nine 
miles from Washington. Clay had previously fought with 
Humphrey Marshall in 1808. Randolph was a novice at this 


meeting, which occurred in 1826. The latter was a singular 
piece of talent and vanity, nearly a madman, and intelligible 
only in Virginia. He annoyed Clay, who was Secretary of 
State, by repeatedly attacking the latter from the Senate, 
styling him a blackleg, and charging him with a diplomatic 
forgery. Randolph spent the night before the duel in quoting 
poetry and playing whist, while his will was being amended. 

The next morning, before going to the field, he got nine 
pieces out of bank to make gold seals for his friends, and 
carried them to the ground in his breeches pockets. His pistol 
went off by accident, but at the real interchange of shots he 
fired in the air. Clay took aim at him. Years afterward 
Randolph had the gold seals made, with coats of arms upon 
them. There was a good deal of Kentucky and Virginia 
blatherskite written about this duel. Clay made a fine figure 
in it, seeming to feel regret and intrepidity together as he 
stood up. For the most extended description, see " Benton's 
Thirty Years in tjie Senate." 

The fourth duel of consequence in this country — outranked 
in character only by the deaths of Hamilton, Decatur, and 
Broderick — was fought between Jonathan Cilley of Maine, and 
W. TVGraves of Kentucky, four miles from Bladensburg, on 
the river road, in 1838. The weapons were rifles, the distance 
was ninety-two yards. Henry A. Wise was the second of 
Graves. Cilley was put in a place where the February wind 
blew keenly on him. They both fired twice and missed. 
After each fire Cilley apologized in a manly way, but would 
not humiliate himself. On the third fire, Cilley fell, shot 
through the body, and died in three minutes. There were 
present at this duel, Crittenden (Compromiser) and Menefee 
of Kentucky, Duncan of Ohio, and Bynum of North Carolina. 
Jones of Wisconsin seconded Cilley. Calhoun and Hawes of 
Kentucky were also present. All these were members of 
Congress. Other spectators were two uninvited men, named 
Powell and Brown, and the hack drivers. 

The duel was barbarous in all its associations. Cilley had 


offended J. Watson Webb, editor of the defunct Courier and 
Enquirer of New York, in debate, and Graves was one of a 
party of fire-eaters who challenged Cilley because the latter 
would not admit that Webb, his principal, was a man of honor. 
While Graves and Cilley were fighting, Webb and another 
party were scouring the country for them, determined to muti- 
late or kill Cilley any way. The record left by the whole Wqbb 
and Graves party in this duel, — for which I refer you to Loren- 
zo Sabine's Notes on Duels and Dueling,-^is one of persecu- 
tion and murder. The event inflamed the country, and led to 
the first decided stand taken by the North against the atrocious 
principles of the dueling code. 

The next duel of note near Washington was an interchange 
of shots between one Edward Stanley of North Carolina, and 
one Samuel W. Inge of Alabama, Congressmen. The former 
said, in debate, that the latter had little sense and less charity. 
Then they called each other blackguards, and both were prob- 
ably correct. 

In 1852, John Barney of Baltimore, tried to get Mons. Sar- 
tiges, the French Minister, to fight him near the city. 

Two Richmond editors fought at Bladensburg, bloodlessly, in 
1852. They were both named Johnson. 

John C. Breckinridge avoided a duel with F. B. Cutting of 
New York, by apologizing, in 1854. 

To this imperfect list of , duels, there is only one index of 
character : Vindictive vanity. The last single combat in the 
Capital city was Payne stabbing the sick Seward in his bed of 
helplessness, and Booth revenging himself on Lincoln's mor- 
tality. Both these heroic affairs of honor were sequels to the 
braining of Charles Sumner by the honored son of South Car- 
olina. They end that race of high motive, of sensitive courage, 
and of cavaliers of which Bladensburg, as it stands, would be 
properly the capital and the cemetery. 

I paid a very remarkable visit to Bladensburg in 1870, to 
ascertain some particulars of the death of Stephen Decatur. 
My inquiries excited an accommodating spirit, and I soon heard 
the barkeeper cry out : 


" Yer's the man that saw Decatur shot ! " said the barkeeper. 

I turned from my supper of fresh herring, caught, "juss 
yer behine de tavern in de branch," and from my roes of fresh 
shad, to look at the man who saw Decatur shot. 

He was a lean, liver-hired old loafer of the village of Bladens- 
burg. His 'kidneys were all dissolved in burning whiskey. 
He wore a wide- slouched hat, poor clothes, the boots of a gen- 
tleman, worn through and patched as frequently as the patches 
in his credit, the gaps in his character. There was a cane in 
his hand, of course, the rake's last sceptre. He looked at me 
with a twinkle of amiability, and a sidewise expression of 

" 1 saw Commodore Decatur mortally wounded, sir. * It was 
on the 22d of March, 1820, sir — forty-nine years ago. My 
God! how time flies. Yes, sir; I'll jine you with a little 

The old man. took off his hat and balanced it on the end of 
his stick, and leaned it against the whitewashed wall. Then 
, he took all his liquor, and asked if I was from the North. 

Marylander ! And from "Worcester County ? . Why, that's 
the gitting-off place," exclaimed the old Bladensburger to my 
answer. And now I know why you take an interest in Deca- 
tur's juel ; for Stephen Decatur was born in Sinepuxent Bay, 
Worcester County, Maryland, ninety years ago. That little 
peninsula of Delaware and Maryland [he called it Maalun], 
called the Easters sho',has projuced some of our biggest naval 
heroes — Decatur, MacDonough, the Goldsboroughs, Dupont. 
And two of 'em were of French descent. Decatur's grand- 
father was a French midshipman from La Rochelle, the last 
stronghold of the Huguenots, who cruised to the West Indies, 
took the yellow fever, and was sent to Newport, R. I., to git 
well. But he fell in love with Prissy Hill there, quit the navy 
of King Louis XV., and, entering our merchant service, died 
soon, poor in Philadelphia. His only son Stephen went to sea, 
married Miss Pine, an Irish girl, became a* naval officer, and a 
privateersman in the revolution, and while he was off fighting 


the English, the British army entered Philadelphia; his wife 
moved down to Sinepuxent Bay, where Stephen Decatur, the 
first son, was born. He had the three big crosses in him, sir, 
French., Irish, and — " 

" Yankee ? " 

" Yes, sir ! " said the old Bladensburger, " but the Rhode 
Island Yankee was driven out of New England proper, and it 
is a better breed. We had some hope to see Mr. Sprague, of. 
Rhode Island, out on our jueling ground. But I'm afraid I 
have seen my last affair of honor." 

" How old are you, may I ask ? " 

. " I am 61 years, sir. Sometimes I think I remember the 
battle of Bladensburg, but they tell me that's only an idea. But 
when Decatur was shot I was 12 years old. We knew there 
was boun' to be a juel by gentlemen with a naval look to 'em, 
who stopped at our tavern over night. That's the way she 
always did, sir. One party would come from Baltimore-way 
and put up yer all night in Bladensburg. The opposite party 
would drive out from Washington after daylight next day, and 
meet the Bladensburg party in the gully, half a mile toward 
Washington. There they'd fight, and cross the Destreek line 
right afterward to avoid arrest. We boys cut our eyes when 
we saw strangers round town late. Next morning, you'll be 
bound, we was up and hiding in the trees or bushes along the 
edge of the gully. It was Barron's party, sir, that stayed' in 
Bladensburg that night. At a gentleman's house, near by, I 
have heard that some of Decatur's family put up, to be timely 
on hand after the shots were fired. There were a thousand 
stories flying round after the fight, about those minor matters. 
I only know what I saw and was informed." 

I thought to myself how true it was, indeed, that what 
passes perishes, at least to the curiosity. This old parasite and 
ghoul of manslaughter had only expressed in another way the 
apology of Mackenzie to his life of Decatur, that : " The search 
for truth, however sincere, does not always result in its being 


found. Experience proves that contemporary history is quite 
as fallible as that of the past." 

I lighted my pipe and purchased for this old-man guide a 
paper of tinfoil tobacco. He entered into some little apology 
upon his fallen condition. 

" We're down tolabul pore in Bladensburg these days, sir. 
They took two things from us, sir, that would ruin any people 
— our river and our niggers. They give us a railroad, and 
that busted us completely. Bladensburg stood before George- 
town or "Washington were thought of, sir. It was called Gar- 
rison's Landing as far back as the year 1700. People round 
here live to this day who can remember vessels clearing from 
the foot of this street for the West Indies and for Liverpool. 
Then the Capital was established close by us, and stages ran 
through to Baltimore, to the number of thirty or forty a day. 
Meanwhile the river began to get shallower every year till our 
port was broken up ; for the soil hereabouts runs off or wears 
into deep gulleys, and we hadn't the Northern knowledge to 
make it stay. What we lost off our land filled up our river. 
Then the railroad was laid thirty years ago, and it broke up 
the briskness of our way travel. Finally, when the land was 
so pore that it wouldn't keep a nigger, superfluous bad luck to 
even our niggers. And, between you and me, sir, as Mary- 
landers, the niggers ain't certainly no wuss off than they was, 
and we are wuss off every way. I'll take some gin, if you're 

At this time my carriage came up, and, after going through 
the hotel, I made the complete circuit of the village. 

This celebrated tavern is a frame building, with a lawn in 
the rear, a front porch, a bar-room at the end, and the bar- 
room gives access to a stableyard, which is open on the 
side next the street, and has hitching stalls set round 

At the present day this tavern is the undisputed Capitol of 
Bladensburg, and Bladensburg is the worst town possibly in 
the United States. There are more desperate and more mer- 


c.nary to wik on the verge of human exile, but I should say 
that Bladensburg at the present time is altogether the most 
heathen place we have. At night this tavern and its rival 
across the street are filled with relics of barbarism, poor 
wretches who will fight upon a word and cheat without a need, 
debased at all points except upon the solitary imputation of 
cowardice. It is saturated with that blood-thirstiness and 
thirstiness otherwise, which calls and follows to " the field." 
Its proudest recollection is that it was the picked place for 
mortal combat, and yet it was the scene of the most cowardly 
battle ever fought on the American Continent, a battle where- 
in a few British sailors and soldiers slew the militia of all this 
countryside as they ran like dogs, leaving on their flank the 
Capital of the country to be burned and the President of the 
country to be captured. And in the environs of this wretched 
place the bravest and handsomest officer in our navy — " the 
Bayard of the seas," as he was not inaptly called — fell almost 
a carcass in the dirt, with a ball in his bowels and his ball in 
his adversary's hip. 

At this day Bladensburg is in essentials the same village it 
was when Decatur and Barron fought here on a morning in 
March, 1820 — a roadside village of three or four hundred peo- 
ple at the crossing of the East Branch of the Potomac, five 
miles from the Capitol at "Washington. Its principal street 
stretches along a flat floor of sand, thirsty, like its citizens, and 
is, at both ends, stopped by a ford and bridge ; for the branch 
makes a turn round the bottom of the village, and shoots off a 
creek round the top of it. The main turnpike street, therefore, 
on which our old duelists' tavern stands, midway between the 
fords — is a good deal like a village built upon a sand bar or 
river beach. The backyard of those houses which keep the 
same side with the tavern go flatly back to the river. The 
yards of houses across the street scramble up at a small 
degree. Behind these latter houses is another broken street, 
parallel to the first, and both of them at the bottom of the 
town lead into a street at right angles, which passes the branch 


by a bridge one way, and the other way leads back through the 
hills into the Chesapeake Necks of Maryland. It was by this 
last road that the British came from their ship at Benedict to 
burn Washington. There are hills on that side of the town, 
and behind them the British formed. Then, charging across 
the old bridge, or shipping up under cover of those old houses, 
they passed the branch, formed on the Washington side of the 
river, and that night moved into Washington. The back lanes 
of this town, and the houses which lie up the green hill-ter- 
races, show large and comfortable yet. The flat main street 
smells of the ague, feels of the rheumatism, and looks of starv 7 
ation. Its grave, hip-roofed, blackened old houses, look in the 
twilight like rows of wrecked hulks along a bar when the tide 
has gone out. In the baking sunshine of the day they look 
like tawny elephants, waiting in two lines to carry up the vast 
delay of cargoes which nevermore shall come to Bladensburg 
piers. Mighty outside chimneys hold themselves and their old 
houses up. The porches hang limp, like the dislocated chins 
of dead men. There are no sidewalks. No wagon moves 
oftener than once an hour through these old waiting rows of 
mansions. There is a shop or two, but the merchant lolls in 
the door and looks where the river used to be for the unreturn- 
ing ships. I have sometimes thought of the perils of towiis 
pitched in the sea, but woe be to the towns which the sea 
deserts, once having fondled them. I never felt the sense of 
isolation in Venice or in Rotterdam, where the water plashes 
against one's house like the sea against his vessel. But in this 
little village, which has lost its river, there seems to have been 
a superstition of bad luck, and the curse came ever since the 
tide forsook it. I felt this myself when I heard of the river 
going away, and I said to my acquaintance, the guide : " By 
the rivers of Babylon we wept." 

I have read a poem about the Deserted Village, but I should 
call this the " Abandoned Village." 

" There was a sossy Methodist preacher here," replied the 
old man, " who undertook to say, just after the war, that our 


people and town were abandoned. He said the jueling ground 
had been the academy of our boys and the tavern their pump. 
I tell you, sir, between us, as Marylanders, that jueling ground 
has been bad for a good many of us. Strangers come to see it. 
It's the sight and park of the village. It fills our boys' heads 
with ideas of taking the chances, and handling weapons, and 
resenting insults. As they can't juel no more, they fight 
cocks behind the tavern now, and skin a stranger, if he comes 
along, with a game of cards. A standing gibbet or gallows 
couldn't have been wuss for us than that jueling ground. 
It'll haunt this neighborhood for ever. The niggers are afraid 
to pass it after night. And do you know," the old man drop- 
ped his voice, " that when I look at our ships gone, the sea 
gone that fetched 'em here, and nothing left but this little 
bloody branch, I feel that yon old jueling ground is somehow 
at the bottom of it." 

. The old man looked as if a chill out of the swampy street 
had struck him. I felt a little shiver of it myself. 

"For look you, sir," he said, "at the bad luck that has 
come to us since the year 1800, when that little gully, half a 
mile from the village, became a human cockpit. (The first 
man known to have been killed there was Hopkins, in 1814, 
but it was a place of jueling almost as early as Washington 
became the Capital, and army and navy and politicians, all 
high-strung, got to be our neighbors). First we lose our ships. 
Then we lose our water, and our wharves stand high and dry 
on land, so that a duck can't turn where a brig used to anchor.. 
Then we lose our good name ; for the British army turns 
Washington in the rear, and makes us a rampart to cover 
their operations. Right over the jueling ground, the Field of 
Honor, our militia cut dirt, and Bladensburg is held account- 
able for the sacking of the Capital. No run of good luck 
begins. We lose the stage coaches. The soil gits poor. Our 
mineral spring that's got no superior in the Middle States, 
attracts nobody. The boys grow up bad. Upon my soul, it 
can hardly be called a calamity that our niggers are 'manci- 


" My Bladensburg friend, it is just eighty years since Wil- 
liam Pinkney, of Annapolis, described Bladensburg at the pre- 
sent day in these words : Never will your country be produc- 
tive ; never will its agriculture, its commerce, or its manufact- 
ures flourish so long as they are dependent upon reluctant 
bondsmen for their progress. Even the very earth itself, as 
Montesquieu says, which teems profusion under the cultivat- 
ing hand of the freedom laborer, shrinks into barrenness from 
the contaminating sweat of a slave:" 

We passed, so speaking, the tumble-down stores, saw ves- 
tiges of the ancient piers and bridge, crossed the new bridge 
in the early evening, and saw negroes bare to the thighs, 
wading in the pools with herring nets, plashing the surface 
meantime with rods, to drive the herring in. Beyond the 
bridge the road, by rising undulations, went towards Washing- 
ton — a hard clay road, fenced on either side ; to the left, ran 
meadows down to the sedgy brink of the river ; on the right 
was a mill, and further on a handsome farm and barns. Half 
a mile from the bridge, the road dipped slightly to pass a small 
stone bridge, of one arch. Beneath this bridge a brook, nearly 
dry, had washed a gulch in the clay, to the depth of eight or 
ten feet, and this gulch crossed the road obliquely, washing out 
the fields to the same depth on either side. The gulch was twelve 
feet wide, and to prevent it from carrying off the bridge, heavy 
piles were driven at both ends of this structure. Gulches or 
" washes " like this account for the bold landscapes and barren 
soils round Washington, and it is the opinion oi Mr. Hilgarde, 
of the Coast Survey, that the whole Chesapeake Basin is 
slowly filling up. 

There is no name for the brook which once ran across, not 
under, the road, and was a clear or a muddy stream, as the 
weather might permit. In those days there was no deep ditch, 
as at present, but the brook flowed down a narrow, grassy val- 
ley, which still meanders through the rolling fields by long and 
graceful curves. A piece of dry marsh, it might be called, 
winding through hills, and concealed from observation except 

decatur's mansion. 345 

from the ends. The passenger on the railroad can look down 
the whole length of it now as he rides by, and in some Sum- 
mers he will see cattle grazing in it, in others he will find it 
planted with Indian corn or buckwheat. 

This is the famous dueling ground of Bladensburg. I de- 
scended from the road and stood on the spot where Decatur fell, 
and in no direction could I see any building, except the tip of 
a barn-gable, across the East Branch, three quarters of a mile 

" When Commodore Decatur fell yer, in 1820," said the 
eye-witness, " there were trees masking this gully from the 
road, and many trees and bushes growing along its banks. 
The gully itself was clear and grassy as you see it to-day. In 
a carriage passing along the road, you couldn't have known 
anybody to be near by. I was a boy, and remember well ; for 
these things made an impression on me, and I sneaked into the 
bushes and saw the duel happen." 

Before six o'clock in the morning, on the 22d day of March, 
1820, Commodore Stephen Decatur rose from the side of his 
wife and put on his citizen's clothes. She was used to parting 
with him, for in their fourteen years of married life, he had 
gone many times to sea and to battle. He crept softly down 
the stairs, and, passing through his spacious hall, encountered 
only his old negro servant, the companion of his voyages, who 
was alert and acquainted with the purposes of the day. 

The old man had thrown open the windows of the drawing- 
room, and round the walls Decatur saw the trophies and illus- 
trations of his life ; his portraits and the paintings of his most 
celebrated battles ; gold medals and gold swords,' the gifts of 
Congressmen and admiring cities ; articles of virtuoso, and bits 
of oriental furniture, purchased or captured in ports of Barbary 
or on the civilized seas. In Washington City there was no 
more spacious or excellent mansion than his, the President's 
house excepted, and this is demonstrable to the present day, 
where it stands upon the west corner of H street and Lafayette 
Square — a large brick mansion, worthy to be a Republican gen- 


tleman's residence in any generation. He had himself built it 
a few years before out of prize money received from captures, 
and it was the second house he had owned in Washington, the 
first being one of the " Seven Sisters," so-called, three squares 
farther out Pennsylvania Avenue. 

Decatur had always been in easy, almost luxurious circum- 
stances. His father was a rich merchant and distinguished 
naval officer ; his blood and name were good ; he had been a 
child of fortune beyond almost any experience in American his- 
tory, and he was now in the height of that popularity, chival- 
rous spirit and manly beauty, in which no American naval offi- 
cer has supplanted him to this clay. 

With a military cloak around him, he strode out of his door 
and down the short block to the Avenue, passed the White 
House where President Monroe lay asleep, and crossing the 
empty lot where the Treasury has since been established, walked 
directly toward the Capitol, by the Mansion House (on the site 
of Willard's), by the "Indian Queen" (Brown's), and all the 
way the imperfect sidewalks were lined with tall poplar trees, 
the freak of Mr. Jefferson, and through their broken aisle he 
could see the unfinished Capitol, surrounded by scaffolds, dom- 
inating its picturesque hill. Thirty thousand people comprised 
the citizens ; the streets were sparsely lined with houses ; the 
walking on the slopes of Capitol Hill was bad as it possi- 
bly could be ; nobody was alert, and in the freshening silence 
of the morning, Commodore Decatur, forty-one years of age, 
had plenty of stimulation to make a retrospect of his life, and 
to examine his present intentions. 

He was within three hours to meet his ranking officer, Com- 
modore James Barron, in a duel, the twain to stand eight yards 
apart, and fire at each other with pistols. The challenge had 
been accepted, and the arrangements made two weeks before, 
on board the ship-of-the-line Columbus, the ship which Barron 
wished to command, but which Bainbridge, Decatur's second, 
had obtained. As she had lain in deep water of St. Mary's, 
in the Potomac River, getting ready for sea, Captain Elliott 


came aboard, on the anniversary of Decatur's wedding, and 
the time, place, distance, and weapons were solemnly selected. 

Dueling with Stephen Decatur had been partly pastime, in 
part a passion. He had written some sentiments to the con- 
trary, but his life disproved them. We have perhaps never 
had an example in America, certainly never in the North, of a 
family so conspicuous in dueling as Decatur's. His house was 
already the home of the widow and orphans of his brother-in- 
law, James McKnight, shot dead at Leghorn, eighteen years 
before, in a duel with a fellow-officer. Only eighteen months 
prior to the present impending duel, Decatur had been second 
to Oliver Perry, in a duel in New Jersey. In 1803, Decatur 
had compelled a duel at four yards between Midshipman Bain- 
bridge, a relative of his present second, and an English duelist, 
wherein the latter was killed. At school, Decatur was the 
physical champion, and at the age of twenty he fought a duel 
by his father's advice, at Newcastle, Delaware, with a mer- 
chantman's mate, badly wounding the latter in the hip. Two 
years afterward, he made the Spanish naval officers in the har- 
bor of Barcelona feel the presence of his high spirit. In the 
war of 1812, he sent a challenge for a duel between American 
and English frigates. At last he is to enter the lists in a com- 
bat of long and bitter fomentation, and its eventftilness marks 
the complexion of his thoughts. The man whom Decatur was 
to meet had been a disgraced and saddened fellow-officer. 
Nearly thirteen years before, a trusted and accomplished sailor, 
he had set sail in the frigate Chesapeake, from Hampton Roads, 
in the sight of Decatur and a fleet assembled there. I f was in 
the time of peace, five years preceding the war of 1812, and 
Barron's flagship, without a gun ready for service, was suddenly 
boarded on the ocean by a boat from the British ship Leopard, 
whose commander demanded three British sailors to be given 
up. Barron refused to deliver them. The Leopard opened 
fire upon the helpless Chesapeake, and after killing and wound- 
ing many of her men, boarded her and seized the sailors. 

This act set the country afire. The Administration, unwilling 


to go to war, offered up a victim to the people in Commo- 
dore Barron^ but his conduct had been so brave and sailor-like 
that the court martial could only convict him upon his misfor- 
tunes ; and because his ship was not ready for action, he was 
sentenced to be suspended live years without pay. Decatur 
took the leading part in this prosecution of Barron, and in and 
out of court denounced him. It was a time of popular or party 
rage, like our recent impeachment trial, and Barron had few 
defenders so that whoever put himself at the head of the per- 
secution became the idol of the hour, and this man was Deca- 
tur. Supported by the baneful passions of the populace, Deca- 
tur grew very zealous in his opposition to Barron, and no 
doubt, in his fervor, believed that he was right. 

Barron went abroad in the merchant service to earn his 
bread. He had struck the ebb-tide, which never turned till the 
day of his death. Decatur took Barron's ship and hoisted his 
Commodore's pennant.' The war with the British came on 
during Barron's exile, and Decatur, who had struck the flood, 
went buoyantly up from victory to victory, and Barron found 
him, on the latter's return in 1818, a Commissioner of the 
Navy, rich, young, handsome and chivalrous. 

The study of public feeling toward public men is not often so 
painful as wo find it in this case. Every glory achieved by 
Decatur had given him a more gracious and historic bearing. 
Every anguish endured by Barron had made him sad, morose, 
and uncompanionable. The one man, out of his great injustice, 
suspected'' everybody. His themes of talk were his personal 
griefs. He went about asking for sympathy. Decatur carried 
an open countenance and a liberal hand. His chivalrous spirit 
compelled all homage which was not voluntary. And his 
themes of talk were epic and healthy ; so that his company was 
coveted everywhere. 

About a year before the duel, Barron — who was a Virginian 
from Hampton, and, like Decatur, the son of a gallant officer 
— made application for active service, and some newspaper par- 
agraphs guessed that he wanted the fine ship Columbus, and the 
command of the Mediterranean squadron. 


All pride of consistency stimulated Decatur to resist Barron's 
request. He was readily joined by Porter and Rodgers, his 
two fellow-Commissioners, and the ship was given to Bain- 
bridge, whom Decatur had rescued from the dangerous Tripoli. 
By this time the unreliable public pulse beat equally with regard 
to Barron, and had the latter not challenged and killed his 
persecutor, it is probable that Decatur's pride of vindictiveness 
would have returned upon himself. 

This is written "after what I think to be thorough and just 
inquiry and research. There is a period which elapses after 
the death of any hero, when he passes out of patriotic into his- 
toric estimate. By the light, and by the right, of Time, there- 
fore, I believe that Decatur's renewed pursuit of Barron, which 
was the cause of this duel, is a shadow upon a life else perfectly 
gallant. He circulated gossip about Barron's position in exile, 
put stigmas upon his courage, and said that " his conduct ought 
to forever bar his readmission to the service." Informers 
going from one to the other, enlarged and envenomed these 
sentences. At last Barron, stung to despair, sent a letter to 
Decatur asking if he said that " you (Decatur) could insult me 
with impunity." 

Then followed a long correspondence^ maintained by Decatur 
with exasperating coolness, and by Barron with irritated en- 
treaty. Barron's object was to have a chance to resume the* 
world anew. So far from imitating the cool malignity of Burr, 
when, resolved upon the death of Hamilton, he wished to avoid 
the duel, and there are indications that Barron was "himself, 
if not under the magnetism of Decatur's brilliant deeds, at 
least aware of the almost entire hopelessness either of escaping 
his bullet, or of standing acquitted in public opinion if Decatur 
should be killed. 

The combat had to come, and Commodore Decatur, walking 
up Pennsylvania Avenue with his will in his pocket, had reason 
to reflect upon the causes and the result of it. Come out as it 
might, had he anything to gain by it, in popularity, in duty, or 
in fortune — he who stood so high already, fighting with poor 


Barron who stood so low ? Barron was older by ten years, an 
invalid, near-sighted, no hand with the pistol ; yet, the distance 
was close ; an officer could scarcely miss ; both might fall. 
But, pshaw ! what right had a professional warrior to consider 
death. Yet, glory — the sole intellectual object of Decatur's 
life, how would his death in a duel affect his fame ? Here we 
may imagine the mind of Decatur going over his correspondence 
with Barron. 

Decatur. " Your motives are a matter of perfect indiffer- 
ence to me ! " 

Barron. "I had concluded that your rancor towards me 
was fully satisfied by the cruel and unmerited sentence of the 
Court of which you were a member. After an exile of seven 
years from my country, family, and friends, I hoped you would 
suffer my lacerated feelings to remain in quiet possession of 
these enjoyments." 

Decatur. " My skill in the use of the pistol exists more in 
your imagination than in the reality." 

Barron. " You have hunted me out, have persecuted me 
with all the power and influence of your office, for what other 
motive than to obtain .my rank, I know not." 

Decatur. " Your offering your life to me would be quite 
affecting and might (as you evidently intend) excite sympathy 
if it were not ridiculous." * 

Barron. " You know not such a feeling as sympathy. I 
cannot be accused of making the attempt to excite it." 

With these and similar of the more vivid and bitter passages 
of their correspondence rising in his mind, Decatur had climbed 
the Capitol Hill and come to the door of Beale's Hotel. Within 
were Commodore Bainbridge and Mr. Samuel Hambleton. 
Breakfast was ready and they sat down together. . Decatur was 
gravely talkative, absent at times, and he spoke of his will, 
unsigned in his pocket, which he said might be signed upon 
the field. He spoke somewhat of Barron. Said he should be 
sorry to kill him, and yet speculated as to where he should hit 
him. By the time breakfast was finished, a carriage, ordered 


by Bainbridge, came to the door, and at a quarter past eight 
o'clock, the people meanwhile stirring out of doors, they 
mounted together, with pistol 'leases and flasks of brandy only 
for baggage, and took the dreary way for Bladensburg. 

At that date, in the spring of the year, the Baltimore road 
was a miry wagon track, leading through almost unbroken 
woods of scrub and pine. There were some vestiges of fires 
and burnt timber, where the troops had passed over it in 1814, 
but, except a hut or two in the clearing, and once or twice a 
stage or a peddler's team laboring by, they passed nothing of 
interest. From cheerful inquiry the talk fell to monosyllables, 
and at last to silence, as they approached the appointed place. 
Finally the carriage stopped in a depression of the road, and 
the trio dismounted. They saw, on the rise of ground a little 
way beyond, Captain Elliot standing, cloaked, and he nodded 
his head to Bainbridge's salutation. Decatur descended alone 
by a little worn path, trodden of former duelists into the seclu- 
sion of the place, and there he stood upon the moist grass, 
with the small stream trickling down, completely hidden from 
the passing travel. A little amphitheatre it was, with the 
stream opening an archway in either end through the inter- 
mixed boughs and evergreens, and here had the game of deadly 
chance established its altar, in the infant years of the Federal 
Government. Convenient to a tavern, near the boundary of 
conflicting sovereignties, the ground nearly level, retired, these 
accidents had made this pretty brook drink blood, and this sol- 
itude echo to groans of pain. Directly Bainbridge and Hamble- 
ton returned and they conferred together upon the precise spot 
to be measured, with low voices and with more embarrassed 
countenances every moment. 

The carriage, meantime, had turned into the woods near by. 
When Elliot arrived at Bladensburg, little knots of boys and 
men, knowing or guessing the matter impending, gave him 
interested regard. A group of naval officers, particularly, 
standing at the tavern, walked out across the bridge toward 
the place of meeting, and concealed themselves within hearing 


of pistol shots. Almost every one of them was a friend of 
Decatur, and among, them were Commodores Rodgers and 
Porter, his two colleagues in the Board of Navy Commissioners. 
Barron followed soon afterward, walking between his second, 
Elliot, and his friend, Latimer. His face expressed dignity 
and resolution. He walked firmly, and they three also de- 
scended into the Valley of Chance. 

Decatur and Barron bowed to each other formally. Ham- 
bleton stood by Decatur, Latimer by Barron. Bainbridge and 
Elliot conferred together, and the former, who had behaved 
fairly and equitably throughout, was appointed to measure the 
ground. He marked a line in the sod with his boot, and, plac- 
ing his toe to it, stepped out eight times, a yard to a step, 
marking also the last step as a base. Four times a man's 
length, or across your dining-room, that was the distance. 

Each second now produced the pistols from a pair of cases, 
long-barreled dueling weapons, of fino finish and bright steel, 
silver mounted. They were charged and rammed in the old 
style, and presented to each principal by his second. During 
all this time no word was said except by the seconds. 

In like manner Elliot and Bainbridge tossed for corners. 
Bainbridge won ; it was Decatur's usual good luck. 

" Commodore Decatur," said Bainbridge, " which stand do 
you select ? " 

The axis of the two bases ran nearly north and south, ob- 
liquely from the brook. Decatur walked to the north, nearest 
the water, where he stood a few inches lower than Barron. 
Both threw oif their cloaks and stood confronting each other. 

No man so beautiful as Decatur ever stood in the presence 
of such unmeritorious death. He was little above the medium 
height, but his proportions and carriage gave him the look of 
lofty stature. His waist was slender, and his shoulders broad 
and strong, with sinewy arms dependent therefrom to match 
the round and yet lithe form of his legs and thighs. He stood 
very easily straight, and his head was tall and columnar and 
very erect, covered with black and curling hair, and straight 


side-whiskers of the same color. His nose was Grecian — large 
and fitted to fine, spirited nostrils ; his mouth was exquisitely 
curved, and his lips were red. Under his black, arching; eye- 
brows lay those large lustrous eyes which were so fame! for 
their lightnings in excitement, but now were merely grave and 
positive. He was clad in citizen's clothes, cut in close-fitting 
naval fashion, and his attitude and confidence were well calcu- 
lated to disturb his opponents. 

Barron was older, graver, a little gray, and showing less 
chivalrously, a little bent, a trifle weary, no such study for a 
picture as Decatur, and wearing in his resoluten6ss also a re- 
lenting sadness. But he faced the. occasion ; and it was his 
first appearance, it is said, in such inglorious lists.. 

" Gentlemen," said Bainbriclge, raising his voice " I shall 
give the word quickly and as follows ; Present — one — two — 
three. You are neither at your peril to fire before the word 
one, nor after the word three." 

Commodore Barron turned his head,, his pistol hanging at 
his side, and said to Commodore Bainbridge : 

" Have you any objection, sir, to pronouncing the words in 
the manner you intend to give them ? " 

"None," said Bainbridge, and he repeated the formula pre- 
cisely as he afterward gave it. For the first time the antago- 
nists looked into each other's eyes. Sternness and the purpose 
to kill lay in both. 

" 1 hope, sir," said Barron, " that when we meet in another 
world we shall be better friends than we have been in this." 

" I have never been your enemy, sir ! " exclaimed Decatur. 

Here Bainbridge Walked behind Decatur and took place 
twelve or fifteen *feet to his left. Hambleton as far on his right. 
The same positions were reversed by Elliot and Latimer. 

" Gentlemen," said Bainbriclge, " make ready." 

The antagonists swung; round sidewise, and looked at each 
other across their right shoulders. 

" Present—" 


The two arms went up and each took sight. 

« One— two— " 

One report rang out. The last word was-deafened hy it. On 
the word two, both pistols had been simultaneously discharged. 
There were two puffs of smoke and in an instant Barron was 
down, groaning. 

Decatur straightened up a moment, pinched his lips, dropped 
his pistol, a ; nd the color went out of his 'face. He drew his 
right hand to his side. Then he fell to the ground, speechless. 

The seconds of both were beside them instantly. Decatur 
was raised by his friends and moved to higher ground, near by 

He opened his eyes, directly, and said : 

" I am mortally wounded ; at least I believe so, and I wish 
I had fallen in the service of my country." 

Barron looked up to them all, and said: "Everything has 
been conducted in ifie most honorable manner. I am mortally 
wounded. Commodore Decatur, I forgive you from the bottom 
of my heart." 

Immediately down the pathway to the Valley of Chance 
came many gentlemen, all friends of Decatur — Rodgers, and 
Porter, and Bolton, two doctors, Bailey Washington, and 
Trevitt, General Harper, and others, friends or idlers. 

There were anxious looks, and utterances of " tut ! tut ! " or, 
"dear! dear!" 

The doctors proceeded to loosen the clothes of the sufferers 
and ascertain the nature of their wounds. The little green 
valley at the breakfast hour had become a surgeon's hospital. 
In it were represented nearly all the naval victories of the 
Republic — Tripoli and Algiers, Lake- Erie and both oceans ; 
they held solemn congress in this unholy amphitheatre. 

Barron was struck in the hip and about the groin. Decatur 
had caught the ball on his hip, and it had glanced upward into 
his abdomen, severing the large blood vessels there. The two 
doctors exchanged glances ; there was no hope for Decatur ; 
his pulsation had almost ceased. 


Now began on the ground, as they lay upon cloaks spread 
for them, that dying interview of mingled tenderness and 
recrimination which Wirt has compared to the last intercourse 
of Hamlet and Laertes. Each striving to clear up his fame, 
and prove that this crime was a mistake or the work of offi- 
cious enemies. Barron, certain that his hours were numbered, 
wished to be at peace with his enemy, that they might enter 
the Court of Judgment friends. Decatur was less relenting, 
but he consented to forgive Barron, though not his advisers. 

It was a sadder scene than Nelson, Decatur's admirer, dying 
in the cockpit during the battle, or Bayard, to whom he had 
been compared, bleeding on the battle-field. 

The carriage came, and they bore Decatur to it, Bainbridge 
kissing his cheek. He had wrested Bainbridge from the dun- 
geons of the Moors. Bainbridge in return had measured the 
ground for him to stain it with his blood. 

Rodgers took Decatur's head upon his shoulders, the doctor, 
Trevitt, seated with them, and the carriage took its painful 
way back to the city. Bainbridge and Hambleton hastened to 
the navy yard, where the tug lay to carry them back to the 
Columbus, that ship of discord. At half-past ten o'clock 
Decatur re-entered his elegant mansion, his wife and household 
disturbed at the breakfast table with the appalling news, and 
they were driven to the upper part of the house. Around the 
city the evil news spread. Friends crowded round the door, 
and into the duelist's dying chamber. He signed his will, 
refused to have the ball extracted from his wound, and spoke 
affectionately of his wife, whom he yet refused to see. Excru- 
ciating pains came to him. After one of the spasms, he said : 

" I did not believe it possible for a person to endure so much 
pain as I feel." 

The town was aroused, and his doorways and pavements 
crowded. They stopped the drawing-room at President Mon- 
roe's. Uncomplaining, in the midst of anguish, to the last, 
the unconquerable soul of the " Bayard of the Seas " yielded 
itself up without a groan at half-past ten o'clock in the night. 


Next day the little old National Intelligencer came out with 
a leaded editoral head, saying that it would be " affectation " 
to be silent upon the fact that the duel had occurred, antl that 
the combatants were mortally wounded. In a " postscript," it 
related that Decatur was dead, and added in the crude apos- 
trophe of that period: "Mourn, Columbia .!. for one of thy 
brightest stars is set ! " Three days afterward the mail was 
robbed, three miles from Baltimore, the driver tied to a tree 
and shot dead, and the mail bags picked over in the bushes 
near by. All this while Decatur's body was going his 
residence, close by the White House, to " Kalorama," an 
estate on a hill overlooking Georgetown, and while Barron lay 
in the city, writhing in pain, and listening to the funeral 
drums. In Congress, John Randolph offered consolatory 
resolutions, but they were objected to. The tone of the press, 
commenting on the duel, was respectful both to the living and 
the dead antagonist, but as sternly denunciatory of " the code" 
as our newspapers now-a-days could be. I have looked over 
the newspaper files of that time, and find that while the 
" gentlemen " of that day were more cautious than now, the 
rest of society were rude and wild. Runaway negroes and 
fighting cocks were advertised. About the large vital occur- 
rences there was awe-struck mention in the newspapers. The 
mail coach seldom left its tavern or entered the woods or the 
darkness, but all hands were disengaged for expected robbers. 
It was much the same sort of time in America as the ora of 
Jonathan Wild and highwaymen in England. 

Barron suffered dreadfully for many months, but recovered 
at last, and lived down to the year 1851, surviving, I think, 
Decatur's childless widow, who was represented in 1846 to be 
alive in the Georgetown Catholic College, " in ill health and 
poverty, finding in the consolation of religion alone alleviation 
of her sorrows," but hopeful of securing something from 
Congress.* Barron went to sea again, and had charge of 

* Stephen Decatur was an attendant upon the Protestant Episcopal 
Church, although his family predilections were Presbyterian. He left at 


several vessels, but the shadow of the duel lay across his life. 
People forgot the apology for it in the catastrophe of it. A 
new generation of boys rose up who read of Decatur's valor, 
and learned to regard Barron as his assassin. The poor living 
victim could not explain against a dead man. He asked for a 
court-martial on Decatur's charge against him, and was 
exonerated with niggard compliments. 

Decatur lies buried behind St. Peter's Church, Philadelphia, 
in a venerable and spacious graveyard, under an eagle-capped 
monument. His portrait is in Georgetown College. His name 
is conferred on many towns and counties of this country. 
What he lived for he has obtained — glory in the eyes of his 
countrymen. Barron obtained " satisfaction " — little more. 
Yet, I think that the latter was throughout the aggrieved 
spirit, and that Decatur never fought nor assisted at a duel 
where the provocation was so ungenerous as that which he 
gave Barron. Decatur was gallant and popular ; Barron was 
sick and disgraced. Decatur had the heart of the nation, 

his death what was presumed to be a fair estate for his widow, considering 
that he had no children. In the settlement and sale of this estate Mrs. 
Decatur was reduced to an annuity of about $600 a year. About 1828 she 
became a convert to the Catholic Church, and maintained until her death 
an intimate association with the Jesuit clergy at Georgetown. Her close 
acquaintance with the Carroll family is thought to have brought about this 
accomplishment. For several years she rented a frame house on the brow 
of a hill 50 or 100 yards from the Georgetown College, the house being the 
property of Miss Hobbs. In this house she died, about 1860, and is buried 
within pistol shot of its roof. A small marble cross above the grave says : 

" Sacred to the memory of Susan Decatur, wife of the late Commodore 
Stephen Decatur, U. S. N., who departed this life June 21, 1860." 

A light iron railing surrounds the lot. Father Corley, of the Jesuit 
brotherhood, who came to Georgetown in 1826, told me he had often walked 
and talked with Mrs. Decatur, and that she imputed the duel in which her 
husband engaged to Commodore Bainbridge. Decatur, she said, had no 
desire to fight Barron, but Bainbridge was resolved to have the encounter. 
Amongst the souvenirs of Georgetown College is the portrait of Decatur by 
Gilbert Stuart, his ivory chess-board and chess men, and his jeweled tooth- 
pick box. 


a lovely wife, a happy home ashore, and any ship he wanted at 
sea. All that Barron had which Decatur had not was a higher 
peg in rank. Barron had nothing but this poor empty peg, 
and the suspicious reader cannot be able to evade the belief 
that Decatur wanted it. The correspondence between them 
embraces about a dozen letters, and was begun and finished by 
Barron. Decatur's letters are taunting ; Barron's are pleading. 
The moral onus of the duel is on Decatur ; for, although he 
was the challenged party, he tempted the challenge. Barron 
had not been distinguished in dueling, like Decatur. He„ was 
near-sighted. He had people to bewail his loss, and Decatur 
was childless. Yet Decatur, the better shot, choosing his own 
place, distance, and position, died by the " code " he had 
accepted, and on " the field " he had so frequently tempted. 
Barron has little posthumous mention made of him in any 
book of biography or passing paper. Persecuted by his wound 
to the end of his life, the victim of misfortune, and the victor 
in a lottery of murder, he demonstrates how hard it is to be «a 
duelist and live, and Decatur how hard it is to be a duelist 
and die. 



" Who are really great men in our government ? " 

I shall answer this question by setting in a row, without 
much regard to association, some of the striking people I have 
sketched in the past five years at Washington. 

And first, that great protector of the civil government and 
maker of war, Stanton, whose funeral I attended at Oak Hill 

He had no political purposes to follow the war, no party to 
organize, nothing to consider but the gigantic fact that he was 
the responsible agent of half a million of men bearing up in 
the bloody field the fortunes of forty millions, and the cause of 
mankind. He was ridden down not only by multitudes of 
thieves, but by loitering officers, politicians seeking prefer- 
ments and commissions for their constituents, by tens of thou- 
sands of men and women wishing to go through the lines to 
visit their sons and brothers, and many of them, in the little- 
ness of their responsibility and the greatness of , their private 
sacrifices, were in that frame of mind to be quickly wounded 
at a refusal. It was in that period that the State possessed a 
man who above all others had the power to refuse, and the 
energy to say " No." , 

I was once in his office when it was crowded with people of 
all sorts, all seeking something, or listening for some fancied 
purpose or piece of information, and this was his way of dis- 
posing of them : 



"What do you want? " to a woman. 

" I want a pass to see me husband in Camp Stanton.' , 

" You can't go. Next ! " 

" I want permission to copy the papers in the Smith court- 
martial ? " 

"What for?" 

" To make an appeal." 

" Come again to-morrow. I'll think about it ! " 


" Come to-morrow. (In a high key), Pass on! Next!" 

"I want a pass to City Point, to find the body of my son." 

" Let me see. your letter of recommendation ! 

" Yes ! You will have it. Stand aside there ! What are 
you doing here ?" (To an officer with a star on his shoulder 
— a General). 

" Why, Mr. Secretary, I thought I'd look in—" 

" Go to your brigade ! If I find you in this District within 
six hours I'll put you in the Carroll Prison amongst the 
common deserters. Go! Next man." 

The next man puts up a paper, and says, sententiously. 

" I want that ! " 

" That you shall have. Orderly, take him to General Town- 
send. Next!" 

And so the endless levee went on, aggregated by all manner 
of episodes; and in the whole terrific revolution, in the agita- 
tated and tottering republic, there seemed to be but one man 
aware that there was war in the land, earnest and bloody war, 
to be grappled with, driven back, and brought to an end. The 
President jested, the Secretary of State gave dinners, the Sec- 
retary of the Treasury had ambition, the Secretary of the In- 
terior was for himself. Stanton was the one man forever alive 
to the fact' that bloody rebellion was to be gashed, stabbed, 
fought, humiliated, and, if need be, made a dreadful spectacle 
of retribution. 

One day in the rain and mud, without music, with grave 
silence, with what of the Government remained to follow, the 


last mould which encased the terrible patriot was carried 
from his habitation in life to his grave, on the acclivities of 
Georgetown. There is nothing beautiful in funerals, but the. 
grief of the bereaved, and yet here is all that is decorous to 
death, — flowers, tears, soldiers, Senators, Generals, the Pres- 
ident. The face of the dead was closed to mere inquisitive- 
ness, and the real friends looked the last in an upper cham- 
ber. The procession included the Judges, amongst whom he 
could have been seated. It would have been a beautiful 
thing, perhaps, to have seen this broken Jove mellow into a 
f hoary Justice ; but nature was wiser, and as he stood at the 
'' footstool of the Bench, ready to go up and be at rest, she slew 
f him in the vestibule, like a soldier, and piled his mighty record 
• upon him for a monument. ^ 

Next let us take a look at Thaddeus Stevens whose funeral 
I attended also at Lancaster city. Of him the Hon. John D. 
Baldwin said to me one day: 

" Gath, I am one of those rare men who cannot make Stevens 
a great man. What is the matter with me ? " 

" You don't go to the theatre enough, Mr. Baldwin. A good 
theatrical education is necessary to appreciate the dramatic 
situations of Mr. Stevens." 

"That must be it," he said. "I always supposed that a 
statesman had vivid views of policy, and succeeded in impress- 
ing them upon legislation. Mr. Stevens was never able, with 
his exalted position, to reconcile the House to his Reconstruc- 
tion plan. Time and again he brought it up, and it grew fee- 
bler every day. That was worse than any statesman's failure ! 
His financial views were so far away that no eulogist has been 
bold enough to refer to them. His inattention to business was 
one of the worst examples set by our public men. Stevens, it 
seems to me, had genius, but he was adapted entirely for oppo- 
sition — not to take occasion by the hand and establish, with a 
victorious party at his back, principles and views which. should 
succeed an era of revolution, with an era of statesmanship." 

" Time will measure him up cubically right." 

362 great' statesmen. 

" Certainly it will ! After this party and the next one goes 
down, Stevens will take his permanent rank for what he was 

" Mr. Baldwin," said I, further, " you have referred to Mr. 
Stevens' inattention. ' Is not that the gate through which 
swindlers come into Congress ? " 

" Yes, sir ! Few members at that time have ever fallen 
under suspicion of dishonesty ; but the loose way of doing bus- 
iness characteristic of the majority of Committees grows with 
the extent of the business ; at last some clerk becomes advised 
and influential, and to him the detail work is left ; then the 
enemy gets the password, and in the end it is impossible for a 
member to catch up with all that he has neglected. My im- 
pression is that if the work of Congress were well done by 
Congressmen these shames would cease. Easy good nature is 
also the enemy of pure legislation. Saying ' yes,' frequently, 
the member is at last the daily prey of the lobbyist." 

Some time in 1869, 1 visited Providence Hospital in Wash- 
ington : one of several institutions which receives a subsidy 
from Congress, and which is a more worthily sustained and 
well managed concern than the Government Insane Asylum, 
and entering the parlor I saw among some prints of saints 
and the Virgin, a fine steel portrait of Thaddeus Stevens. 

" How came you to place this face here ? " I said to the sis- 
ter ; " are you not a heretic, to your politics at least ? " 

" Why ! he was our greatest friend ; he got our appropriation 
v for us. We think very dear of his memory." 

There was something of the Church Gallican or the Church 
Universal in this. These quiet and dutiful Sceurs hold the 
Pope also to be a good old man, cheated and abused, but they 
had neither knowledge of the political questions involved in the 
big and useless council held at the time, nor sympathy with the 
prelates who will go there to support them. This Providence 
Hospital is managed with much economy. Some time ago the 
one cow which gives milk to all the patients broke through the 
covering of an old well, and was not found for a whole day. 
Suddenly Sister Catharine ran in, much excited, and cried : 


" Pray, Sisters, pray for the cow down the well, while I run 
for help." 

They all fell to praying in the hardest way, while the little 
woman brought some workmen, who rigged a derrick and 
wound up the maternal font of the hospital. If a politician 
had had charge of that hospital, he would have dug a new well 
and charged a new cow to Congress. 

From Stevens let us turn to a brilliant debater, — Carl Schurz : 

Schurz resided in 1871 in a pleasant .dwelling on F street, 
between the War Department and the Potomac, in a roomy and 
semi-secluded house. His children were at school in Europe. 

His library is his favorite place of sojourn, and when he can 
' be induced, which is seldom, to speak of his German adven- 
tures, his tall, strong, robust figure, and half-Mephistophilian 
face, take all the interest of romance. When he came to 
America, in 1852, he could scarcely speak a sentence of English ; 
now he is an orator in the same language. He was a student 
at Bonn when the revolution of '48 broke out, and then he be- 
came a Lieutenant in the patriot army, and served till the cap- 
ture of Rastadt, when he retired to France. His old bosom 
friend and Professor having been captured and put in a dun- 
geon near Berlin, Schurz disguised himself and rescued him, 
and the two set sail in a boat of twenty tons burden from Ros- 
tock, on the Baltic, to Edinburgh, Scotland. After a stormy 
passage they arrived at Leith, the port of Edinburgh, on Sun- 
day, and dressed in their strange German costume, and unable 
to say any English words but lifstech and sherry, they wan- 
dered about, pursued by crowds of little boys. Toward night, 
worn out, with a Calvinistic Sunday, they went into a hotel, 
and were obliged to poke their forefingers in their mouths to 
indicate hunger. The waiter, after a long while, appeared 
with a huge bowl, and poking his forefinger into it, said, with 
great energy, "Ox-tail-soup ! " Schurz stayed a week in London, 
then resided two years in Paris, and finally sailed for New 
York, a married man. 

Schurz is the ablest running debater in Congress, and he 


possesses the conscientiousness and dignity which we miss so 
generally in public life. His domestic life is sweet and affec- 
tionate, and he possesses traits too gentle and honorable always 
to give him the advantage in the unscrupulous encounters of 
American legislation. 

Walking up the Avenue with Carl Schurz in the spring of 
1873, 1 asked him if we might riot take some comfort in Amer- 
ica from the official corruptions of other countries. 

He said that in Prussia, there was a good deal of fraud com- 
mitted under the. cover of joint stock companies, but that the 
government service was honest. In France, there had been 
corruptions in the army, particularly in the conscription ac- 
count, under the empire. He did not think, however, that cor- 
ruption in any degree comparative to the extent in which we 
had it in America was to be found anywhere in Europe, unless 
in Russia. s 

Some days after this, I met an American Inspector of our 
Consulates in foreign lands, who had but recently returned to 
Washington. He said that everywhere in Western Europe, 
amongst social acquaintances, he was the subject of inquiry 
and talk on the matter of corruption in the American official 
service ; that he steadily debated the imputation, although 
knowing that much of it was unanswerable ; but that, since he 
has returned home, he is satisfied that we have the most corrupt 
class of legislators and executive officers in the world, not 
excepting Russia, where, despite the increasing evils of gener- 
ations of despotism, there is still enough force at the head of 
affairs to make terrible examples at certain times of peculators, 
and, between this fear and the growing civilization of the 
country, the Russian officials bid fair to be reformed sooner 
than our own. 

From Schurz let us turn to his great predecessor from Mis- 

Colonel Thomas H. Benton, the principal projector of the 
Pacific Railway, whose statue stands in St. Louis to-day, look- 
ing westward along the line, aquiline and grim as in life, with 


his cloak folded around him. I have obtained some personal 
reminiscences of him, one or two of which may be pertinent to 
the theme of this chapter. 

Shillington is an Irish-bookseller here, of credit and renown 
at Washington., Benton was a neighbor and friend of his, and 
made Shillington cut out of books and newspapers every con- 
ceivable article upon the Pacific Railway and bring it to him. 
He also employed Shillington to select from the Congressional 
Globes, which were brought to his house in C street by the 
cart-load, the matter that he wished in publishing his Abridge- 
ment of the Debates of Congress. 

" It was a strange and remarkable study," said Shillington, 
" to see that old man lying there flat on his back, unable to 
rise, his spectacles poised on the tip of his nose, looking 
through the long debates, whose huge folios he held on his 
breast. He knew that he had but a week or two to live, and 
he was running a race with death to get the book finished ; for 
he believed that it was the vital thing to keep the country to- 
gether. He used to send me word four or five times a day to 
come up there, and' the people said that I was his servant. If 
I did not come promptly on time, the old gentleman seemed to 
feel that I was in some way derelict in my duty to the country. 

One day, when the shop was full of people, word came down, 
' Mr. Benton wants you to come up at 2 o'clock, to help him 
on an important matter.' As soon as I could possibly leave I 
went around to his dwelling, and found him asleep, breathing 
very hard, with a large volume of the Globe on his breast. I 
lifted the book off, and set it on a table a little out of reach. 
Then, seeing that he did not yet awaken, I hastened back to 
my work. In about two hours I returned, and the old man 
looked very severely at me. 

" ' I sent lor you, sir, two hours ago. I have but a month, 
at most, to live, sir, and it is important for the country that 
this book shall be finished before I die. You did not come, 

" Yes ! Mr. Benton, I did, and I found you asleep.' 


" ' I have not slept fetf fifty hours, sir ! It was impossible 
that I could sleep, sir, with so much on my mind !' 

" Benton never trusted a man that told him a lie, so I found 
it necessary to clear myself. 

" ' Mr. Benton,' said I, ' you were asleep, with a volume of 
the Globe on your breast, when I entered the room, and I 
found you breathing hard, so I put the book on the table 
yonder. ' 

" The old man's eyes lighted up. 

" ' Well now, sir, he said, ' I knew I had that book on my 
breast, or on the bed somewhere, and I wondered how it got 
off there so. far. Perhaps I did doze a little unconsciously. 
But come, sir, we must get to work, I have but a little time to 
do a great deal of work in.' 

" When Benton was about to die, so vital did he think his 
advice was to the country, he sent for Buchanan, had the door 
closed, and solemnly devoted his last hours to impressing upon 
the President his opinion of the mode in which the country 
should be administered. If ever there was a man," concluded 
Shillington, " who thought that in his mind and reason lay the 
true destiny of the Union, it was Tom Benton. His family, 
his fame, his future were all subordinate to the love of 

A brilliant man, of evil habits, in his day, was James A. 
McDougall, of California, who died in 1867. He has left 
many anecdotes of himself at Washington, where he is regarded 
as the fallen angel, the superb ruin, a sweetly melancholy por- 
trait out of Decadence, like those carousing Romans painted by 
Couture. His , desultory learning was remarkable ; so was the 
tenacity of his memory, the stronger when his brain was most 
aflame, and he used to quote from the Greek and Latin poets 
by the page, steadying himself, meantime, a poor old sot in 
body, while his luminous intellect kept the bar-rooms in a 

There is a restaurant near the Capitol where they still show 
McDougall's dog, a milk-white mongrel, with the fawning 


habits left in which it was humored by its master. Like his 
memory, it is most vivid and familiar with bar-keepers and 
tavern loiterers, and they say with some vanity : 

" Knows tha' dorg ?" 

" No !" 

" That's Senator McDougall's favo-rite purp !" 

McDougall used to feign great knowledge of the small 
sword, and an Irishman or Scotchman was in Washington 
during the war, giving officers fencing lessons. One day 
McDougall dared him to a combat with canes. They crossed a 
while, and Mc, half drunk, gave the master a violent " dab " 
on the side of the ear that nearly knocked him down. 

The swordsman said to McDougall : 
," That was foul. Now I'm going to clean you out." 

"Don't you touch that man," cried a vagrant Irishman, 
loitering near, who had heard, perhaps, through the tavern 
windows some of the drunken Senator's didactics : '" that 
man's a good Dimmicratic Senator, and a great gaynius. If 
you hit him I'll mash your nose." 

So the wayward steps of the poor lost old man were upheld 
by invisible attendants, extorted to his service by the charm 
and command of his talents ; for when drunkest he was most 
arrogantly oracular, and did all the talking himself. 

They recall, who have ever heard them, Saulsbury and 
McDougall together, the latter defining in a wild, illustrated, 
poetic way, the word government, law, or sovereign, pouring 
upon it the wealth of his vagrant readings, making a mere 
definition gorgeous by his endowments of color, light, and 
sentiment. Then Saulsbury, shutting one eye to see him 
fairly, would say with ludicrous pity : 

" McDougall, you're the brightest intellect in the American 
Senate ! " 

Clutching Saulsbury with the grasp of a vise, and speaking 
to him in a tone of solemn warning, McDougall would retort : 

" You, sir, would be the brightest intellect if you would 
study ! " 


At this Saulsbury, in a maudlin way, falls to weeping, and 
McDougall, imagining himself called upon in this case to utter 
a mild reproach, would construct a garment of sanctity for 
himself : 

" I burn the lamp early and late," said McDougall. " The 
rising sun sees me, up already laboring with the muse of 
Homer. [Sob from Saulsbury.] I reach down the Koran at 
sunrise, and read myself a sublime lesson, pilfered, it is true, 
from the benignant Brahma, but little altered except in the 
vernacular. ■ At eight o'clock, like Socrates, I breakfast upon 
a fig and a cake of oatmeal. Wine never crosses these lips. 
"Till ten o'clock I roam in my gardens, communing with the 
mighty master of the Saducees." [Sob from Saulsbury.] 

Enter the bar-keepers with the drinks, and the airy castle 

The wild things done by McDougall would make a comedy 
fit for Farquhar. His entire mileage anu pay he spent — taking 
little note of his family — making altogether about twelve 
thousand dollars a year. He died in Albany, near his birth- 
place, a victim to his temperament ; for he had no grain of 
practical executive tact, and his poetic nature made him both 
the stature and the wreck he was. The fire that made him 
brilliant, made him also ashes. 

No sketch of men of mark at Washington would be complete 
without Charles Sumner. He has resided for several years in 
a pleasant new residence at the corner of IT street and Ver- 
mont -Avenue. His dwelling below stairs is a pair of salons 
tastefully and copiously filled with busts, engravings, books, 
and articles of virtuoso. 

Thus far many visitors have penetrated into this senatorial 
labyrinth, but fewer have had opportunities to estimate the 
pleasantness of his dinners, enlivened and made cheerful by a 
host who long ago accepted the English mode of living — to 
save the day for stint and work, and to resign the evening to 
good cheer. 

On the second floor, in one very large and nearly square 


apartment, lighted by windows on two sides, Mr. Sumner has 
his work table, and here again methodized, yet with such 
infinite multiplication, that the eye at first sees only confusion, 
are the implements of his unfinished tasks in manuscript, note- 
books, and all the paraphernalia of intellectual productiveness. 

Mr. Sumner sits at a large table, a drop-light bringing into 
clear, yet soft relief, his large, imposing stature, strong face, 
great wave of hair, a little grizzled, and encased in his dress- 
ing-gown and slippers he looks like Forrest's delineation of 
Richelieu sitting in his library between the hours of state, 
recreating at play-writing. 

Our estimate of public men is too often narrow, harsh, and 
based upon little angularities which scandal-talking people 
take up and magnify, until at last they seem -to comprehend 
the whole character of the man. In this way our conceptions 
of the leaders of opinion have come to be destroyed, and we 
acquire the habit of resolving our hero into his manner, or we 
gauge his life by some current anecdote. 

It has been said of Mr. Sumner that he has not a patient 
temper, that he is uncompromising, and that he is impracti- 
cable. The second of these distinctions does him honor, for 
although an uncompromising man, he is never disturbed except 
upon leading questions, and after twenty years in the Senate 
he is still heard to debate at rare times, and is always heard 
with the keenest interest by all. 

Not a particle of his life has been wasted ; he is uncompro- 
mising in the breach when the main assault is to be made, but 
in the camp he is modest and agreeable as a priest. As to his 
want of practicability, the progress of the nation of which he 
has been the ideal leader in its better elements for twenty 
years, disproves the shallow assumption. His life has been* 
without a great mistake, but his successes have all been large, 
real, and abiding. Since he left Harvard College in 1830, he 
has passed the gamut of all the practical workshops through 
which a Senator should go to his accomplishments ; at the age 
of twenty-two he took charge of the " American Jurist," and. 


edited it with the keen eye of a natural lawyer. While pursu- 
ing successfully his legal practice in Boston, between the ages 
of twenty-three and twenty-six, he was the reporter of the 
United States Circuit Court, and teacher at the Cambridge 
Law School, and the editor of several books on admiralty and 
practice. He became a marked man in that discriminating, 
educated community, as one of the future ornaments of the 
Commonwealth, and in 1837 he went abroad, and enjoyed the 
confidence of the best and most experienced in public life. 
Keturning in 1840, he edited "Vesey's Eeports," in twenty 
volumes, and thenceforward for eleven years, until his election, 
at one bound, from private life to the United States Senate, 
Mr. Sumner was the beau ideal of the State as an orator and 
young leader of the civilization around him. His life has not', 
therefore, been cramped and corrupted in the purlieus of State 
legislatures, nor manipulated by the small proprietors Of 
caucuses, nor did he come to the Senate hemmed around with 
promises to a host of lackeys and parasites ; he rose direct 
from a private citizen of Massachussets to be her Senator in 
place of Webster, and at the age of forty. 

The people of Washington have known more or less of Mr. 
Sumner for twenty-one years. In that time our municipal life 
has experienced many shocks, and the ground appears to have 
given way under our feet ; but on the whole there is probably 
no one conviction clearer than this: that Mr. Sumner has 
steadily risen through the bitter repugnance, and the social 
obtuseness of old Washington sentiment, until we ourselves 
acquit him to-day as probably the greatest character we have 
yet seen from the North. The terrible enemy of what has 
passed away, but always the earnest friend of the Capital city, ; 
its edifices, its adornments, — never factious, never in any sense 
a demagogue, never suspected even by the most scandalous of ; 
being other than a pure man in all his relations to his country 
— what he is to us he appears in tenfold stronger light to i 
the people of his native section, who also know him from boy- 1 
hood up. 


Few men in Washington by hook or crook have kept such a 
general run of notoriety and influence as General Butler of 
Massachusetts. This man who seized the Relay House, crept 
like a panther and at a spring into Baltimore, sent a rebel 
woman to a torrid island, held the trenches before Richmond, 
flung a couple of iison mines into Fort Fisher, made New York 
shudder, and himself one of the most debateable names in our 
military history, I saw stand one Monday, without uniform, 
before the Court of Impeachment, to open the case of the 
People against President Johnson." 

A singular presence was his, — short, broad-shouldered, short- 
legged, fat, without much neck, but with a good many flaps 
around the throat, standing as if a trifle bow-legged, and with 
no suggestion of a military habit and life, rather of sedentary 
occupations which had encouraged the sagacities and resent- 
ments — say, indeed, a politician ! A curious natural crescent 
of a forehead, sweeping round from ear to ear, was developed 
by baldness into a great cranium of a shining pink color, in 
which the folds of the brain revealed themselves with a naked, 
muscular appearance. Too naked, indeed, was the man's head, 
to give the lookers-on in the galleries a comfortable feeling. 
But for the red tint of his baldness he looked cold. • 

Now, this man's face, instead of looking straight forward, 
was compelled to point its chin upwards when it wanted to see 
anything ahead, because one of its eyelids was in a condition 
of permanent suspension. He peeped under it as, under a 
green shade, you often see some acquaintance of yours level 
his eye along the surface of his cheek. By sympathy with this 
eye, the other eye also hung fire a little, and it is needless to 
say that persons of this sort are very seldom handsome. Never 
forgetting this half-closed eyelid, therefore, you must further 
imagine the rest of the face to be of an audacious, not to say 
pugnacious, cast and expression. The ears, the eyebrows, the 
broad cheek bones, the contour of the chin are without delica- 
cy, salient, but not massive. He seems forever thinking up 
some keen, scathing utterance. The sides of the bald head 


have some thick wings of dark hair hanging to them like the 
feathered wings of a fowl, else plucked. This man wears a 
good, new coat of black cloth, to match the rest of his dress. 
Your first feeling as you see him is, that if he were a school- 
master you would mind your lesson ; if he were a bank pres- 
ident you would hate to ask him for' a discount. Because he 
looks as if he would just as lief refuse as consent, and would 
probably refuse in terms calculated to make a man feel very 
uncomfortable. In short, Mr. Butler is a man that you per- 
haps wish to have nothing of business to do with at all. He 
would bully you ; he would also conquer you. He would rath- 
er impress you with a sense of his power, than his magnan- 

As to his talents, he need be at no pains to impress you with 
it ; for you admit the same without challenge. A good, strong, 
suspicious, measuring, worldly look is all over his face. Over 
the eyebrows the forehead is raised into bumps, as you always 
see it in men quick at words. Little inertia has he, seeming 
always poised for a leap. A reflection is always folded under 
that large, flat, eyelid. Masses of men, whether audiences, 
mobs, supplicants, legislatures, or juries, affright him never, 
having always perfect confidence in himself and never-daunted 
courage. ' Waiting to address this court and the great and 
brilliant historic audience, you see him sit at his counsellor's 
table with the roll of his speech, without a contraction of the 
throat, a cough, a look of modesty, an attempt at composure — 
without anything but a set audacity of self-reliance, a wish to 
get up and go on, a contemptuous impatience for the fight. 

This is the remarkable man — remarkable always, whether 
with the majority or minority — who, without much appeal to 
original principles, or any considerable sacrifice to great motives, 
has carved for his own person a stature, of the first prominence 
in the history of these eight years of violence. His life has 
been already written by the most fascinating of our biographers, 
and the influence of his will upon the country and its enemies, 
has been impressive and decided. * • 


General Butler is one of those men who, reared, so to spe^k, 
at the criminal bar, have never had any material reverence for 
the law, more than a sharp-shooter for his rifle. The law has 
been to him a weapon, not a master. His appeals have never 
been addressed to the old Doctors of the Law, seeking their 
reason rather than their weakness. The world in which he has 
striven for fame has been a miscellaneous jury. He has inj 
formed himself upon the motives and credences of human na- 
ture, and made the object of all his endeavors, not to convince 
but to win. In military affairs, as in legal, he has paid little 
attention to the comity of nations, the laws of war, or military 
precedents. To astonish, to awe, to conquer, have been his 
aspirations. And probably no man in this country e^er ap- 
pealed so successfully to the personal fears of men. Baltimore, 
New Orleans, and New York, alike felt the terror oft his pres- 
ence. He made himself as awful to the gold gamblers of Wall 
Street and the secession girls and wives of Nev Orleans, as to 
armed rioters and disaffected and treacherous cities. Discard- 
ing all the magnanimities, he was as keen te detect as to puia- 
ish the minutest infractions of loyalty, even when expressed by 
looks, by absence, or by silence. In like manner he was always 
alert for short cuts to great military ends, as in the canals of 
the James and Mississippi, and the powder ship of Fort Fisher. 
He has never had his eye off General Grant, since the latter 
ridiculed him in his report, and he did not scruple to charge 
Mr. Bingham with having murdered Mrs. Surratt upon muti- 
lated evidence, who would, probably, himself, have hanged her 
without any trial at all. 

While Mr. Butler has thus been always in the advance where 
resolute acts of intimid action were required, he has seldom 
succeeded in the direct face of an equal enemy, after his in- 
genious expedients and " short-cut " surprises had failed. He 
was the first either to apprehend or to imitate the spirit of 
slavery, which is about the same thing in its consequence, and 
the terror of his name paralyzed the arms of assassins who had 
sworn to have his life. He went back to Massachusetts after 


tie war, and with the same determination to win, invaded a 
neighboring Congressional District, pitched his tent upon a 
common until he had obtained citizenship, and then swept 
away all competition by the audacity of his canvass, fairly driv- 
ing the baser lot of politicians to support him by the supposed 
terror of his influence. 

Here in Washington he is surrounded with almost a full 
company of adherents. They bring him news, search out rec- 
ords and authorities for him, do copying and errand-running, 
carry threats and inducements, and in short, increase his power, 
by virtue of that law which Ben Wade quoted the other day : 
" Th3 more you kick a breed of hounds, the more they cling to 
you !'* 

Never in a Republic, has one man succeeded in making him- 
self so terrible. Appealing always to the instinct of fear, lie 
has thus far succeeded beyond the power of talents, of social 
influence, of wealth, or of popularity, in putting himself at the 
head of every assault. His talent lies in his perception, his 
language, and his audacity. Few men have like fluency and 
conciseness of expression. Take some examples ; What is 
stronger than his denomination of an insolent woman : " She 
shall be treated as a common woman of the town, plying her 
vocation !" 

Of Johnson : " He was thrown to the surface by the whirl- 
pool of civil war !" 

Of the Dred Scott decision : "Time has not yet laid its soft- 
ening and correcting hand long enough upon this decision to 
allow me further to comment upon it in this presence." 

His method is as wonderful. He has more Congressional 
business brought to him from outside parties and from all parts 
of the country, than any other five men in Congress. All this 
is carefully classified and recorded, to be referred to at a mo- 
ment's notice, and some of his speeches are the work, in 
detail, of probably twenty or thirty men, each carting up some 
fact or inference, while he, like a confident architect, puts it 
together and hews it into shape. 


The terrible shaking up we have had with great men by the 
war, by the cheap printing, the public schools, the mass meet- 
ings, the quick travel, and the growth of public business, has 
set us to thinking that perhaps we shall never have any more 
indisputably great men. If we can get as good stewards and 
magistrates as the better average of society, we shall almost be 
satisfied to let Washington and the heroes lie back unquestioned 
in their mythologic halo. The cry is no more for a miracle, a 
Shiloh, a past God, or a coming man ; it is for a neighbor, a 
Christian, a magnanimous and worthy gentleman, an honest 
man in high places. If our public men will be no worse than 
the responsible men of our private communities we shall have 
approved our democracy a success, because in the logical order 
of development here, the people should not be the disciples of 
the statesmen, but the statesmen should be the servants and 
exponents of the people. 



Few readers have ever pushed into the queer nooks and 
queerer documents around the Capitol which exhibit the multi- 
fold operations of a modern government. 

Let us run over some items of what is called the Legislative, 
Executive, and Judicial Appropriation Bill, selecting the Bill 
of 1871 which was passed by a relatively honest Congress. 


Do you know what it costs to pay the Senators' salaries and 

mileage per annum ? Four hundred thousand dollars ! Cheap 

at half the money ! Do you know what it costs the House for 

the same? One' million ! But halt! The officers, clerks, and 

messengers of the Senate get, besides, $130,000 ; and the same 

officers of the House get about $200,000. The police, who 

patrol the Capitol, and sit around the little parks enclosing it, 

cost $43,000. The stationery and newspapers of the Senate 

cost about $14,000, and for the House $37,000. The little 

pages, who run around the floor, cost in the House $7,600, and 

in the Senate $'8,000. What does the Senate want with so 

' ny pages, when the more numerous body requires so few ? 

^sts the Senate $46,000 for packing-boxes, folding docu- 

Mture, fuel, gas, and furniture-wagons. It costs the 

~^»s and cartage, $16,000. The Committee 

$33,000, and of the Senate $25,000. 



The Secretary of the Senate and Clerk of the House get $4,320 
each, and the Librarian of Congress gets $4,000. All the 
clerks of the Library of Congress, taken together, require $26,- 
000 a year ; and the library is allowed only $12,500 per annum 
to buy books, purchase files of periodicals and newspapers, and 
exchange public documents with foreign Governments. 

Public printing costs an enormous sum, and the appropria- 
tions almost always fall short. Still, it is questionable whether, 
on the whole, we do not dignify ourselves, and confer benefit 
on the country by maintaining, as we undoubtedly do, the most 
perfect printing establishment in the world, not excepting Na- 
poleon's printing house in Paris as it used to be maintained. 
For the present year, there will be appropriated for the public 
printing, $655,000 for composition and press work ; $709,000 
for paper to print upon ; $552,000 for binding books, and $75,- 
000 for engraving and map-printing. 

Coming to Executive appropriations, we find that two police- 
men, two night-watchmen, a door-keeper,, and an assistant 
door-keeper, at the White House cost unitedly $8,000. The 
President's Private Secretary gets $3,500 ; his assistant $2,500 ; 
two of the President's clerks $2,300 each ; the White House 
steward, who buys the grub and gets up the dinners, $2,000 ; 
and the messenger $1,200. 

At the State Department, it costs $12,000' to publish the laws 
in pamphlet forms ; and for proof-reading, packing the laws 
and documents off to our Consuls, and such, we spend $47,000 
annually. The eternal Mexican Commission costs us $28,700 
a year, and our Commissioner gets $4,700, and the umpire, 
who lives out of town and is seldom called cm, $3,000. The 
Spanish Commission costs us $15,000. The High Joint busi- 
ness at Geneva was provided for by a special appropriation of 
$250,000. They drink over there nothing less than chambertin. 

At the Treasury Department are required for the Secretary, 
his assistants and immediate clerks, $384,000. What is a 
char-woman ? There are here provided for, ninety char-women, 
at $180 a year each. These are, indeed, scrub wages. The 


Architect's office, presided over by the great Inigo Jones Mullett, 
costs about $27,000. This bill provides that, from the contin- 
gent expense appropriation of $100,000, no part shall be ex- 
pended for clerical hire. The Comptrollers of the Treasury 
cost, unitedly, $11,500. The office of the Commissioner of 
Customs at Washington costs $37,000. The Auditors' offices 
cost as follows : First Auditor, $58,000 ; Second, $384,000 ; 
Third, $289,000 ; Fourth, $83,000 ; Fifth, $60,000 ; and the 
Special Auditor of the Treasury for the Post-Office Department 
requires $267,000. Uncle Spinner, the Treasurer, demands 
for his office $189,000. The office of the Register of the 
Treasury requires $85,000 besides additional compensation at 
the discretion of the Secretary. The office of the Comp- 
troller of Currency absorbs $117,000. The Commissioner of 
Internal Revenue demands merely for office assistance, — including 
Commissioner's salary of $6,000, — $361,000. His dies, paper, 
and stamps cost $400,000. To pay throughout the country 
the different Collectors, Assessors, Supervisors, Detectives, and 
Storekeepers, the Revenue Bureau demands $4,700,000. To 
punish violators ol the Internal Revenue laws, $80 ? 000 are ap- 
propriated. The Lighthouse Board costs, to keep up the Wash- 
ington Office, $14,000. The Bureau ol Statistics costs $65,000, 
The stationery of the Treasury costs $45,000 ; its postage, 
newspapers, seals, brooms, pails, lye, sponge, etc., $65,000 ; its 
fiirniture, $25,000 ; its gas, fuel, and drinking water, $40,000. 
Besides, the Secretary is allowed $45,000 tor temporary clerks. 
Perhaps you were not aware that we have an Independent 
Treasurer in this country. We have. His office is in New 
York, and he gets $8,000 a year personally, while his clerks 
receive $140,000. The office of the Assistant Treasurer at 
Boston costs $33,000, at San Francisco $21,000, at Philadel- 
phia $36,000, at St. Louis $16,000, at New Orleans $14,000, 
at Charleston, S. C, $10,000, and at Baltimore $24,000. 
The Treasury's Depositaries require, to pay salaries, $10,000 
at Cincinnati, at Louisville $6,000, at Pittsburgh $4,000, and 
at Santa Fe $5,000. It costs $6,000 to pay Special Agents to 


examine these Depositaries. Then you come to the matter of 
Mints. The chief officers ot the Philadelphia Mint require 
$38,000 per annum, the workmen $125,000, and for incidental 
and contingent expenses, besides, $35,000, — in all about $200,- 
000. The Mint at San Francisco costs $290,000, to pay sala- 
ries and wages next year; at Carson City $90,000, at Denver 
$30,000, at Charlotte, N. C, $4,500, (provided the Mint be not 
abolished this year, as it will probably be.) The Assay office 
in New York costs $118,000, and at Boise City $12,000. On 
the whole, we pay a good deal of money in the way of salaries, 
considering we see so little coin floating around. If these 
Mint-men cannot diffuse hard money more, there ought to be 
some curtailment of their appropriations. 

Arizona costs us for salaries $14,000 a year, and there is a 
proposition also to pay its noble Legislature — that Legislature 
which fell upon the Apaches like Joal's band and slew them — 
$20,000, including their mileage. We pay Colorado, out of 
the National Treasury, $14,000, and nothing is said about 
mileage or paying the Legislature. We pay Dakota $54,000 
for officers, and $20,000 for its Legislature. Idaho gets $15,- 
000, and $20,000 for the Legislature. Montana, New Mexico, 
Utah, Washington, Wyoming, get nothing for their Legislatures, 
but cost us for officials $15,000 apiece, and the District of Co- 
lumbia costs the Federal Government, for salaries, $28,000. 

The office of the Secretary of the Interior costs, for clerks 
immediately around his person, $47,000 ; for watchmen, $21,- 
000 ; for stationery and packing, $16,000 ; and for rents and 
repairs, $26,000. The Land Office costs, for clerks, $53,000 ; 
for maps, telegraphs, etc., $244,000. The Indian Office costs, 
for salaries, $30,000, and for incidentals, $5,000. The Pension 
Office costs the extraordinary sum of $344,000, besides addi- 
tional clerks to the amount of $92,000. This office also uses 
$75,000 for stationery, engraving, printing, <fcc. The Patent 
Office costs, for salaries $319,000, besides, for extra clerks and 
laborers^ $147,000. The stationery, &c, here cost $90,000,. 
and for photo-lithographing, $40,000. The Bureau of Education, 


an excrescence upon the Government, of no earthly account 
except as an auxiliary to take common-schools from the States 
and counties where they belong, and run them nationally, — 
this costs $27,000. 

Now we come to the Surveyor-General's office : In Minnesota 
it costs $8,300, and in Kansas $2,000 ; in California $14,000, 
and in most of the other States about $30,000. The interest- 
ing Department of Agriculture, whose ornament — the bleached 
Capron — has been imported into Japan as a curiosity, costs, 
for salaries alone, $75,000, for statistics and fodder for the an- 
nual report, $15,000, to scatter seeds around and put them in 
bags, $45,000. These seeds make Vice-Presidents and Senators 
when properly distributed. The Experimental Garden of the 
Agricultural Department costs $10,000, the stationery and the 
books on bugs, $23,000 ; besides, there is a gorgeous report on 
the education of oysters, and the intellectual needs of pump- 
kins, for which a monster appropriation has to be made annu- 

The salaries of the Post-Office Department in Washington 
City alone cost above $400,000, and the building demands for 
stationery, besides, $50,000. In this particular bill, Post- 
masters are not considered. 

The War Department takes $47,000 for salaries ; $46,000 
are appropriated for examinations, and for copying from the 
Rebel archives, the Adjutant-General demands $100,000 per 
annum ; the Quartermaster-General, $18,000 ; the Postmaster- 
General, $70,000 ; the Commissary-General, $42,000 ; the 
Surgeon-General, $25,000 ; the Chief Engineer, $29,000 ; the 
Chief of Ordinance, $25,000 ; the office of Military Justice, 
$5,000 ; the Signal Office, $2,800 ; and the Inspector-General, 
$1,600. These salaries are merely for clerks and stationery 
in the Washington Offices, and do not apply to salaries 
throughout the military service. The War Department, be- 
sides, requires for rents and repairs, $44 ? 000. 


To run the central office of the Navy Department, where 
Secretary Robeson sits at the table with an oar in his hand, 
crying " Heave ho !" the clerks get $36,000, and billet-doux 
are written to the extent of $5,000. Then the Bureaux have 
their particular clerks. The Yards and Docks Bureau requires 
$16,000 ; that of Equipment, $12,000 ; of Navigation, $6,000 ; 
of Ordnance, $10,000 ; of Construction and Bepair, $113,000 ; 
of Steam Engineering, $8,000 ; of Provisions and Clothing, 
$15,000 ; of Medicine, $5,000, &c. 


And now we come to the Judicial part of our Government, — 
a third and co-ordinate part of the whole ; and what does it 
cost ? To pay the whole Bench demands $72,000 a year, ex- 
clusive of nine Circuit Judges, who cost $54,000 altogether. 
To pay the District Judges, and some retired Judges, costs 
$193,000, and the Court of the District of Columbia costs 
$20,000. The total salaries of all the District Attorneys of the 
United States is put down at $19,000, and of the Marshals 
also, $19,000. The Marshals and Attorneys get fees besides. 
The District Attorneys get 2 1-2 per cent, on all the money 
they recover for the country, and the District Attorney's office 
in New York City is said to be worth $30,000 a year. The 
Court of Claims, at Washington costs about $35,000, and 
$400,000 is appropriated to pay its judgments. This extraor- 
dinary clause — the only piece of light reading in the bill — is 
put at the end of the Court of Claims appropriation : 

Provided, That no part of this $400,000 shall be paid in 
satisfaction of any judgment rendered in favor of George Chor- 
penning, growing out of any claim for carrying the mail. 

The Department of Justice requires $73,000. The Solicitor- 
General gets $7,500, which is only $500 less than the Attor- 
ney-General. Each of the Assistant Attorneys-General gets 
$5,000, and the Solicitor of Internal Revenue $5,000. The 
Solicitor of the Treasury costs, for himself and clerks, $22,000 ; 


three Commissioners for codifying the laws of' the United 
States cost $18,000 ; the British Claim Commission, meeting 
in Washington city at present, costs 849,000. 

The above, perhaps, dull reading, is an analysis of one of 
the large appropriation bills, and will give you some idea of 
what it costs merely for clerks, stationery, office service, and 
printing in the departments at Washington. Since that day 
back pay has been voted by Congress, and all the larger sala- 
ries increased. 

The greatest office of the Government, outside of Washing- 
ton, is the New fork Custom House. 

Consider that it employs nearly one-tenth as many men as 
constitute the regular army of the United States ! That it is 
the toll-gateway for the greater part of all the foreign cargoes 
which are poured amongst our forty millions of people ! That 
it is not only the most fruitful source of revenue which we 
possess, but also the most fruitful source of corruption ! Ten 
per cent, a head, levied upon its employees, — as was done 
every year down to the present, — will make a purse sufficient 
to carry an election in the largest community in. the Union. 
Senator Morton, of Indiana, if I am properly informed, had no 
trouble in the world to get 815,000 from this hive ot pension- 
ers to help him lose the State of Indiana at an election in 
1870. Out of this great den of revenue comes the cash which 
is mysteriously dispensed amongst us . in the critical periods of 
partisan appeal. This Custom House has always been wielded 
for party purposes, and it is said never to have had an efficient 
chief. Its director is called the Collector of the Port of New 
York. He nominally receives 86,400 a year, his Assistant 
Collector $5,000, his Auditor 87,000, and his Cashier 85,000. 
His seven deputies receive $3,000 a piece. Under him are em- 
ployed an immense number of persons, as for example, 247 in- 
spectors of one particular class, whose aggregate wages are 
$380,000 ; 120 night watchmen, getting altogether about 
$130,000 ; 100 store-keepers, who cost him, in gross, 
$150,000 ; 60 examiners, and several hundred clerks. Few 


of the salaries fall as low as $600, and the average salary- 
passes $1,000. Mr.. Allison, the Register of the Treasury, 
alleges, in his newest report, that one set of items show a bill 
of expenditures at the New York Custom House of nearly 
$1,800,000. Mr. Boutwell sets down the revenue derived from 
all the customs in the year 1870, at $195,000,000, which was 
ten millions more than the gross receipts of the internal reve* 
nue system. If we go back to the year 1869, we shall be able 
to see more distinctly what a great part the New York Custom 
House plays in our finance and our politics. According to the 
statistics of that year, the value of all goods now imported into 
the United States is $414,000,000 per annum. Only $42,000,- 
000 worth are entered free, i d $160,000,000 are sent to 
bonded warehouses before their duties are paid. The gross 
custom duties received on this $414,000,000 reach the heavy 
figure of $180,000,000, or nearly 40 per cent, of the value. The 
New York port enters $270,000,000 of goods per annum pay- 
ing duty, and $27,000,000 of goods duty free. Of the dutiable 
goods, $120,000,000 worth go to New York bonded warehouses, 
or three-fourths of the warehoused goods in the country. Last 
year there entered the port of New York, subject to the Custom 
House restrictions, 5,218 vessels, with a tonnage of 3,200,000 
tons, and with crews amounting to 110,000 men. This is 
equal, therefore, to the head-quarters of one of the largest 
navies in the earth. 

Speaking of navies suggests the great old Marine Barrack 
of Washington city, which few visitors ever enter. 

The marines are under the direction of the Secretary of the 
Navy, and they may be described as the military of the ships. 
They stand guard at the gangways, magazine, forecastle, navy 
yards, and navy arsenals ; are the boarding party in the ulti- 
mate collision of vessels, and in time of action they must fight 
the after-division of guns. The service, although a useful one, 
is generally considered a fancy one, and it is in request. Can- 
didates are examined for it in our day, but there are no Marine 
cadetships at West Point, and to be between the years of 20 


and 25, to have a fair collegiate education and physical 
strength, are sufficient endowments. Appointees are put under 
drill, and one of the marine officers is now preparing a book 
upon the manipulation of the corps. 

There are in all ninety-two officers of the Marine Corps, 
counting the general staff; the file numbers 2,500 men. 
Privates, who formerly received 816 a month, now get $13 
only, and there is much grumbling over the reduction, and 
desertions are more frequent. A corporal only receives the pay 
of a private. Two promotions from the rank are recorded. 
The uniform of the corps is dark blue jacket and light blue 
bowsers, with white pipe-clay cross-belts, and, for dress, -the 
^rical short hat, with red fringe pompon. Sailors are sel- 
dom enlisted in the corps ; they will not i l set up " well, have 
a swagger incompatible with the noble stiffness of a true 
marine, and are averse to the service besides. The old black 
high stock forced upon the marines, to give them the quality 
of ramrodness, is, now abandoned. 

Promotion to .the head of the Marine Corps is made by 
selection, and not by seniority. 

A cosy part of the Navy Department is the Judge Advocate's 
room. Around it are a series of those old-fashioned naval 
pictures which one finds scattered through the Navy Depart- 
ment, executed in abundant blue, framed in dingy gilt, for- 
gotten as to their authors, and as to their date immemorial. 
Doubtless they were the work of some old clerk, whose amateur, 
self-learned skill with the pencil got him relief from fuller 
duties ; perhaps the work of some old salt, officer or seaman, 
who so whiled away his lazy hours while out of commission ; 
possibly wrought by some decayed or embryo artist whom a 
past secretary has salaried to illustrate our naval career. All 
through the department, these unclaimed, unhonored canvasses 
lie, with portraits of distinguished " salts " set between ; here 
Bainbridge, there McDonough, yonder Hull. It is not improb- 
•able that many of them are ascribed excellent for technical 
merits, which strike a sailor more than art ; but there they 


are, forgotten as their episodes, useless to the world of action 
as are the old swords, scimeters, hari-karis, forbidden to our 
officials, which repose in the museum of the Patent Office. 

" Judge Bolles," said I, " does anybody know what these 
old ship-scenes represent ? " 

" These in my room," said the Judge, from the depths of 
his leather-cushioned office-chair, " tell the whole story of the 
fight between the Guerriere and the Constitution. Here they 
are sailing for the action. Yonder they haul to, and the 
Guerriere opens at long distance. In the third picture, the 
Constitution being within pistol shot, delivered her first ter- 
rible broadside, In the next the Guerriere strikes. The last 
picture represents the hulk of the Guerriere, and the Constitu- 
tion turns on her heel, sailing away in victory. 

Beside the Smithsonian Institute upon this flat, and on the 
site of what has been called the "Experimental Government 
Farm," a fine new building has arisen, 170 feet long by about 
60 feet deep, made of pressed brick, with brown-stone dress- 
ings, built in the modern French "style, with steep slate roof 
and gilt balustrades and galleries. This building is to be 
occupied within a month, and the Agricultural Department 
carried out of the vaults of the Patent Office ; then the thirty- 
five acres allotted to the new department will be supplied with 
an orchard-house, an orangery, a cold grapery, and houses for 
medicinal and textile plants. The building is one of the 
simplest and purest, in a modern sense, in Washington, the 
design of a Baltimore architect. It cost $100,000. The 
Agricultural Department in toto costs about $150,000 a year, 
of which nearly one-sixth goes to the distribution of seeds. In 
the new building the happiest being will be our enthusiast, 
Townsend Glover, the naturalist, him to whom your farmers 
apply for a knowledge of what birds eat the pippin apples, and 
what worm gets into the beet-root. Glover is a Brazilian by 
the accident of birth, a Yorkshire Englishman by parentage, a 
German by education, American by adoption and enthusiasm. 
He is a singular-looking man, short, thick, near-sighted, pecu- 


liar, an Admirable Crichton in the practical arts. Agriculture 
has been his fanaticism for forty years. He paints, models in 
plaster, engraves, composes, analyzes, and invents with about 
equal facility. His passion is to be the founder of an index 
museum to all the products of the American Continent, from 
cotton to coal oil, from pitch pine to wine. Heretofore he has 
had only two little rooms in the dingy basement of the Patent 
Office ; hereafter he is to have a handsome museum-room in 
the new building, 103 by 52 feet, and 27 feet high. His 
objects, already largely perfected, are to methodize, by models 
and specimens, the natural history, diseases, parasites and 
remedies of every individual product in America. For example : 
A man wants to move to Nevada. What are the products of 
Nevada ? Glover has a series of cases devoted to that State, 
models of all its fruits, berries, prepared specimens of its birds, 
illustrations of its cereals, flors, grasses, trees. A small 
pamphlet conveys the same information ; the man knows what 
to expect of Nevada. A man forwards a blue bird ; is it toler- 
able or destructive, to be encouraged or banned ? Glover 
forwards the names of fruits, etc., whieh the blue bird eats. 
He will show you, in living, working condition, the whole life- 
time of a cocoon : the processes of Sea Island cotton, from the 
pod to the manufacture ; the economical history of the common 
goat ; the processes of hemp from the field to the hangman. 
Every mail brings to him a hawk, a strange species of fish, a 
blasted potato, a peculiar grass, which poisons the cow. He 
is the most dogged naturalist in the world, probably ; a wrestler 
with the continent. He is a bachelor, married to his pursuit, 
one of those odd beings hidden away in the recesses of 
government, whose work is in itself its own fame and fortune. 

A curious subject, to the inquisitive reader, was debated 
before Congress in 1871. It was the revision of the laws per- 
taining to the mint and coinage of the United States. 

This measure originated with a ■quiet and indefatigable bach- 
elor official of the Treasury Department. Mr. John J. Knox, 
the Deputy Comptroller of the Currency. He has spent almost 


his whole life in the atmosphere of banks, and, receiving a sal- 
ary of only $2,500 in a city where it costs $3,500 to live, he 
has made use of all his leisure time to put himself into asso- 
ciation with the former, as well as the present, practical men 
of the mints of the United States. 

You know what the United States Mint is — an institution 
ordained by Congress in 1792, while the Capital of the United- 
States was yet at Philadelphia. The fine body of organizing 
men who were setting the nation right at that time, resolved 
upon giving their image and superscription to the world upon 
their hard money. Th^ first Director of the Mint was the 
renowned David Rittenhouse, astronomer and mechanic, who 
made watches, orreries, telescopes, and mathematical instru- 
ments, and who went heartily to work in the new institution, 
devising machinery, organizing a clerical force, and otherwise 
establishing so handsome an institution, that, when the Capital 
was removed to Washington, the mint was permitted to remain 
in the city of the Quakers. Rittenhouse was succeeded by 
such strong men as De Saussure, Boudinot, and the two Doctors 
Patterson, father and son. These kept the mint up to a good 
standard of efficiency, but much of its machinery remains mod- 
eled upon the same pattern as the early days. This mint is a 
staid, unattractive building, on Chestnut street, and it enjoyed 
the remarkable distinction of keeping a permanent set of officers 
down to the year 1861, when, for the first time, as we grieve 
to say, the new Republican administration put its hand upon 
the Directorship of this most responsible concern, and made 
its management a part of the political patronage which curses • 
the country. 

From that mint, as the necessities of the -country demanded 
— or rather the covetousness of localities — branch mints sprang 
up in Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama, and an assay 
office was established at New York city. After the discovery 
of gold on the Pacific coast, a more needful mint was given to 
San Francisco, where really the larger part of the coinage of 
the country is now done. After a time the greed of localities, 


and the growth of jobbery, gave a mint to Carson City, Nevada; 
one to Dallas City, Oregon ; another to Denver, Colorado ; and, 
finally, an extra assay office to Boise" City, Idaho. Thus the 
business of coining money, instead of being confined to one 
establishment, as in almost every other government, has got to 
be very nearly a State matter in the United States. 

According to the report of Architect Mullet, we have twelve 
pieces of Mint and assay property, which, altogether, have 
cost, or will cost, between four million and five millions of 
dollars. The New Orleans Mint, which has cost $620,000, is 
a dead loss, and of no use whatever. . The Carson City Mint, 
which was put up to tickle the Nevada silver mining interests, 
cost nearly $300,000. The Mint at Charlotte, North Carolina, 
cost upward of $100,000, and at Dahlonega, Georgia, $70,000. 
The old California Mint cost $300,000, and the new mint will 
cost more than $2,000,000. The assay office at New York 
cost upward of $700,000. Mr. Mullett's Mint at San Francis- 
co appears to be architecturally an adaptation of the Patent 
Office at "Washington, with the front of the mint at Philadelphia 
appended, and there are two large smoke chimneys in the 
centre, which give the whole thing the appearance of a steam- 
boat ready to go right off through the Golden Gate. The edifice 
is to be 221 by 164 feet in dimensions. 

As the mint edifices have been scattered, so have the regula- 
tions about the coinage fallen behind the well-organized system 
of other nations, and the final capture of the mint by the 
politicians has proved to be a serious matter. The Philadel- 
phia Mint has continued to retain a traditional supremacy, its 
chief officer being " the Director" in name of the whole mint 
system of the country, while the executive officers at the places 
are called Superintendents merely. Yet the mint at Philadel- 
phia has latterly come to be, in great part, a mill for making 
nickel pennies, and engraving medals trom the " Great Father" 
to his Indian braves, and other Generals. In 1873 the bill 
just referred to, passed, and hereafter the Commissioner of the 
Mint will reside in Washington city at the Treasury building. 


Another quaint bureau of the Treasury Department is the 
Detectives', headed by Colonel Whitely. 

The position which Colonel Whitely maintains is more impor- 
tant than any secret police agent holds in the Union. He is 
charged with all the manifold arid intricate offences against the 
currency and the Treasury, including counterfeiting, defalcation, 
whiskey, and tobacco frauds, the use of false stamps, etc. His 
headquarters are in Washington, and his main branch office 
is on Bleecker street, New York. His force is distributed 
through the Union, and the area of his personal superinten- 
dence is circumscribed only by our national boundaries. 

He is a tall, wiry, rather debilitated-looking young man, with 
a long, pale, youthful face, light eyes, and dark hair, a shy 
manner, without any worldliness in it, and a sober, modest, 
nearly clerical, black dress. He neither drinks nor smokes, 
and is as much of a Puritan as Mr. Boutwell. Whitely has 
been very successful and systematic in his operations, and he 
has a fair knowledge of the civilization of professional thieves, 
their jargon and methods, and their haunts and associates. 
With some youthful confidence and self-esteem, he is still 
thoughtful, persevering, and adroit, and, armed with the enor- 
mous moral and material power of the Federal State,' and its 
great system of marshals and attorneys, he is not subject to 
the restraints of .cross-jurisdiction and State laws, which im- 
pede the pursuit and capture of Jocal criminals. He occupies 
the whole field, and is free from the , jealous annoyances of 
police rivalry. 

If one could penetrate the Treasury building, and see the 
strange and motley character of the lesser clerks, he would 
find meat for wonder. In it, filling weary benches, are ex- 
Governors, ex-Congressmen, soldiers of rank, the sisters of 
generals like Kichardson, decayed clergymen by the score, some 
authors, many bon vivants, and, they do say, young girls with 
dangerous attractions for public atmospheres or public individ- 
uals. The population of the Treasury building ( is that of a 
good-sized town, between three and five thousand. It is, and 



will be till war comes again, the great position -of public life, 
no sinecure, demanding profound statesmanship at its head. 
The destinies of the people lie bound up in it. It can over- 
balance all private sagacity if it be weakly administered, and 
if corruptly or partisanly, it will be our debaucher or tyrant. 

Next to the Capitol itself, the spot most consecrated to our 
marvels here is the old theater where Mr. Lincoln was mur- 
dered. The rash design, ascribed to Stanton, of leveling it to 
the ground, has happily not been approved, and in essentials of 
situation and exterior it is the same object. But all around it 
the zeal of housebuilding is at work to make the spot unrecogni- 
zable to the half-buried ghost of Booth. The alley of his bad 
escape is there and also the stable where he hid his nag, but 

the open areas and naked lots 
which lay around the old thea- 
tre and the hulks of dwellings 
are filled with brick walls and 
plaster-beds. A new Masonic 
temple faces the neck of the 
alley ; the theatre itself is pre- 
served only in its bare walls 
and these are freshly rough- 
casted, the doors and windows 
changed ; the boxes and gal- 
leries are torn out. Strong 
floors girded of iron and 
vaulted with brick replace at 
different heights the open canopy of the theatre, and iron stair- 
ways climb from floor to floor, guarded on every platform by 
one-armed soldiers standing to their crutches. The murder of 
the President still tenants the building like some lost trace of 
a skeleton hid away; or a spectre vaguely seen, but for the rest 
it is an association merely, and every day the incident grows 
less vivid and the narrative of it more wayward. But added 
to the martyrdom of the father of the people, the contests of 
tho building are now of the aggregate reminder of the bruises, 



wounds, and agonies of the entire struggle for the Union. It 
is the Army Medical Museum, the depository of the names and 
casualties ot every stricken soldier and the perpetual min- 
iature of that vast field of war whose campaigns of beneficence 
followed in the footsteps of its heroes, and death and mercy 
went hand in hand. 

Here are 16,000 volumes of hospital registers, 47,000 burial 
records, 250,000 names of white and 20,000 names of colored 
soldiers who died in the hospitals. Here are the names and 
cases of 210,027 men besides, discharged from the army dis- 
abled. Here are names and statements of 138,957 wounded 
men brought to the hospital, and the particulars of 28,438 
operations performed with the knife. In one year — so method- 
ized and perfect are the rolls and registers collected in this 
fire-proof building — 49,212 cases of men, widows and orphans 
demanding pensions have been settled in this edifice. If you 
look through the lower floors you will see a hundred clerks 
searching out these histories, cataloguing them, classifying 
them, bringing the history of the private soldier down to the 
reach of the most peremptory curiosity, and assisting " to heal 
the broken-hearted and set at liberty them that are bruised." 

It is this museum which is at once the saddest memorial of 
the common soldier and the noblest monument to the army 
surgeon. It contains a complete history of the surgery of the 
war, illustrated by casts, models, photographs, engravings, and 
preparations. There are here nine hundred medical patholog- 
ical preparations, and two thousand eight hundred microscopi- 
cal preparations. There is no similar army medical collection 
in the world, and from Baron Larrey down to Neleton and 
Joubert the published reports of this collection have delighted 
and surprised the savans of the world. Scarcely a leading 
surgeon in Europe but has written praises and sent them here. 

Let us see what this museum has to show us. It is a long, 
cool room, the whole length of the theatre. Show-cases extend 
lengthwise down it. Models of hospitals and skeletons of war- 
horses stand at top and bottom. The yellow standard of the 


kospital planted with the blue colors of the regiment and the 
tricolor of the nation is fixed in midground. Two splendid 
human skeletons, at full length, guard the head of the room. 
The walls are covered with large photographs, some of them 
two yards square, of the great hospitals of the war, those superb 
edifices which are now nearly all broken up. Near by are pho- 
tographs of the great army surgeons of all nations, Larrey, De 
Genette, O'Meara, and others of our own service. * A table is 
full of books of photographs of surgical operations, where, 
spent, and unshaven, the camera has been turned upon the 
amputated man's freshly severed stump and made his sufferings 
vivid forever. So are the healed and scarcely less cruelly sug- 
gestive wounds photographed with views of men in the various 
transitions between the cutting of the bullet and the final con- 
valescence. Photographs of amputating tables all prepared and 
the victim stretched out insensible almost make you smell the 
fumes of chloroform on the doctor's bloody sponge. Stereo- 
scopes are set, near by, wherein you may examine the field of 
battle with the corpses yet unburied and see the bleached bones 
of the Wilderness as the camera discovered them to make their 
profanation eternal. So may you see the decks of battle-ships, 
where they are carrying the splintered and shot-riven below, 
and the cockpits where they seek to save the remainder of the 

Continuing on we come to great cases of artificial limbs, 
bandages, slings, lint, and crutches. Some of these latter are 
actual crutches made of forked boughs, whereon wounded men 
hobbled unassisted to camp. After this are models of every 
sort of ambulance, stretcher, dissecting table, hospital bed, and 
the interiors of miniature hospitals, clean and sweet-scented as 
their originals. 

Then follows a long array of human skulls, some perforated 
by bullets, some staven in by cannon-balls, some fractured by 
blows from sabres, some eaten with syphilis. Afterward fol- 
lows the vast collection of preparations, dissected parts of men 
corrupt with decompositions, abnormal by neglect or the results 


of wounds, or swollen or attenuated with camp diseases and 
unwholesome food. Following these by hundreds are models in 
plaster or wax, of preparations too perishable to keep. Then 
come collections ot parasites, deposits, impassable articles of 
food found in the liver and stomachs of the dead, strange in- 
stances which fell from drinking filthy water, and tokens of 
monstrous disease or indigestion beyond the reach of the dis-' 
secting knife. Bones in catacombs come after, splintered, bro- 
ken, ill-set, amputated away from the man — whole jaws, noses, 
eyes, ears, shoulder blades, the leg from the hip-joint to the toe. 
Here is that cartilage of Wilkes Booth, broken by the ball of 
Boston Corbett. Here is a view ot Sickle's leg, amputated on « 
the field of Gettysburgh. Next are valuable cases of most 
minute microscopic preparations, a library of books, reports, 
experiments, suggestions made by the medical wisdom of the 
doctors of the war, and by this time the eye, running along so 
much that thrills it, wearies of even the fascinations ot death 
and refuses to explore these painful wonders further. 

In this museum, the war will live as long as its moral and 
political influence. This collection is worthier than the proud- 
est victory won even for freedom. It is the infiltrating genius 
of mercy, unable to prevent the blow but claiming the victim 
when he is stricken. And not less extraordinary than this 
ocular demonstration are the figures deduced from the rolls of 
the surgeons, shedding light upon the natural history of man 
at large. 

From skulls to books is an easy step. 

Right off the Rotunda, that amphitheatre of politics, the 
, Congressional library lies, its windows facing the pit of the 
city of Washington. Opposite the main door, behind a high 
table, piled full of books, sits, or stands the Librarian — a dark- 
skinned, black-haired man, perpetually at work with a pen, 
cataloguing, or, with a catalogue, directing ; and his self-im- 
posed labors are probably greater than his duties. He was 
never known to be in doubt about any volume, and probably 
never known to waste any time in mere book gossip. His 


place is one for which he has personal ambition, and he indi- 
cated his choice beforehand by minute and extensive convers- 
ance with bibliography. His nights are the Government's, like 
his days ; for he has resolved, of his own will and motive, to 
catalogue this large library by subjects and by authors, and not 
merely to catalogue its books by titles, but by contents, so that 
when one is interested in a subject, he can be apprised even of 
exceptional references to it. 

Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Government, as we 
understand it, was also the author of the library, and in the 
first year of this century $3,000 was appropriated to buy books, 
only 2,000 volumes of which were collected, when the British 
burnt the Capitol. In 1814, Jefferson again appeared in the 
guise of Phoenix, and offered to replace the perished library 
with his own, consisting of 7,500 well-selected volumes. The 
usual hue and cry of Federal partisans was raised, but that 
small majority of common sense patriots which comes to the 
rescue at opportune times carried the measure, and nearly 
$24,000 was appropriated to make the purchase. It was not 
until 1825 that the library obtained good housing in the central 
Capitol, and by small yearly appropriations it had grown to be 
55,000 books in 1851, when fire destroyed three-fourths of it, 
sparing many of Jefferson's books. Cut down to 20,000 vol- 
umes, its great days seemed to have passed. Congress cheer- 
fully voted within three years $157,000 to build a fire-proof 
library room, and to buy new books, but only 70,000 volumes 
had been accumulated up to the period of the war, when there 
providentially appeared an old man who had devoted sixty 
years of his beautiful and dutiful life to saving from the ravages 
of time and waste, a library of American history for just such 
an exigency. .This was Peter Force, now an inhabitant of his 
grave for nearly two years. He is, par excellence, the founder 
of the " New Library of the United States." 

Peter Force was the greatest New Jerseyman, and the ear- 
liest collector of American books and antiquities. A printer 
in New York; a resident of the Capital City half a century; 

rr ' ' ^ A 



Mayor of Washington ; editor of the American Historical doc- 
uments, and founder of the American Bibliography, his rank 
in our literary civilization was more eminent than Sloane's in 
English. There is nothing more interesting and peculiar than 
to follow this grand and ardent old man through the garrets 
and attics of old colonial homes, from Maine to Mexico, dis- 
covering in chests and rubbish heaps, the precious footprints 
of our history, raising from the brink of extinction some paper, 
autograph letter, or a pamphlet which, from its mouldy pages 
threw the phosphorescent spark upon some mistaken fame or 
injured cause, and kept for man the memory of an expiring 
episode to guide or to beguile him. His venerable presence 
haunted the frequent auction sales of all the towns and cities, 
and his hand interposed between the frivolous plunderer and 
the hammer, to guard many cherished data for the State. 
He touched with his wand many young men, and they, like 
him, went groping into the garrets of the past to add to his 
collections, and at last, from every side, books, pamphlets, and 
letters were forwarded to him from gainful people, who put 
upon his sinking shoulders the duties that elsewhere are under- 
taken by the State. He labored to the end, this Noah of our 
literature, bridging over the gap of oblivion with his prov- 
idence, and his house, at Tenth and D streets, was a veritable 
ark, containing the seeds of our past species. Offers from all 
sides were made to him to sell, but he relinquished his library 
only to the United States, and then pined for its society, and 
died like the last man of the former generations. 

In all his life, but one great pain came to Peter Force. Sec- 
retary of State, Marcy, refused to accept his second series of 
American archives, probably in some pique of the politician's 
spirit, and Force declined to explain or to resume. The work 
ceased. It can never be done so well by any survivor. This 
is an episode of the old, interminable war between power and 
art — place and pride of scholarship — fought over by Johnson 
and Chesterfield, Chatterton and Walpole, Motley and Seward, 
Force and Marcy. 


The Congressional Library is about 180 feet long, by 34 feet 
wide — a gallery, bent twice, so as to form a hall and 1 two 
alcoves, the hall itself 91 feet* long, and the height of all the 
three uniformly 38 feet. The hall contains the Librarian's 
desk and a few baize tables ; one of the wings or alcoves is 
exclusively for Congressmen, the other affords reading space 
for perhaps fifty people. The floor is marble ; the ceiling is of 
decorated iron, with skylights ; all the shelving is iron. The 
architecture of the room is pleasing, and the prevailing tints 
are cream-color, bronze, and gold. 

Like Georgetown College and the Smithsonian Institute, the 
Soldiers' Home of Washington is a contribution from outside 

parties. Gen Winfield Scott 

W B plFSg -„ % extorted the money with 

||j which the land was pur- 

- — - 

:^?i'" , ^f llflP cnasec l from the city of Mcx 

' kl. He" tm ico on account of the viola- 

1 IB 

1 i '}S tion of a municipal obliga- 

mSm?' % tion affecting the truce. A 

fijlf I 3 - Ijjjj very eligible site was chosen 

" ■:, ~~^s on the high ridge of hills 

3 about four miles from the 

city, and this may be con- 
soldiers' home. sidered the Central Park 

of Washington. A few cents a month is subtracted from 
the pay of soldiers to support the institution, which has 
been so well managed that in 1868 the fund was about $800,- 
000. Some of the ex-volunteer generals in Congress, who had 
no very magnanimous appreciation of the regular army, endea- 
vored to have this fund divided amonst the loosely managed 
volunteer asylums throughout the country. To prevent such 
spoliation, the beautiful estate of Harewood, belonging to W. 
W. Corcoran, was purchased in 1872, thus expanding the 
grounds to a truly ample and noble park. About the same 
time a statue of General Scott, the benefactor, was ordered 
from Launt Thompson of New York, which work was being 


modeled while the great equestrian statue of General Scott 
which the Government had ordered was being cast in Philadel- 
phia. This accounts for two statues of a hero of Mexico at 
the Capital. During the fierce times of the war Mr. Lincoln 
made his summer home at one of the cottages on the lawn of 
this institution, and it is a matter of tradition and general be- 
lief that one evening as he rode out he was shot at upon the 
road, but whether by assassins or mere highwaymen was not 
known. This led to his being accompanied by a small guard 
at the close of the war. From the upper windows of the 
central tower of the Soldiers' Home, a panorama can be seen 
much wider and more varied than that from the dome of the 
Capitol, including a back view of the Maryland country to- 
ward the Patuxent. Right under the eye is a very old church, 
Rock Creek, one of the old parishes of Maryland before the 
District was surveyed. This church was erected in 1719, re- 
built in 1775, and remodeled as we now see it, in 1868. Strong, 
hoary oaks surround it, and the old grave-yard is full of the 
tombs of people who lived at Washington and in the surround- 
ing country anterior to, and contemporary with, the founding of 
the Federal town. A large and neat soldiers' cemetery lies 
between Rock Creek church and the Soldiers' Home. In Sum- 
mer the drives in this region are enchanting, and one of the 
few roads in the vicinity of Washington which is passable in 
Winter and Spring for pleasure teams is that leading from 
Silver Springs toward Sandy Spring. Sandy Spring is one of 
the boarding-house settlements for Washingtonians. Silver 
Springs is the estate of Francis P. Blair, Andrew Johnson's 
official editor, who is still living in a hale old age. Between 
Silver Springs and the Soldiers' Home are the villas of Alex- 
ander H. Shepherd, Mathew G. Emery, and other prominent 
citizens of Washington. 

We will conclude this chapter with some sketch of the 
Smithsonian Institute : 

The will of James Smithson, like that of Stephen Girard, 
Mr. Rush, and many others, did not express with sufficient 



directness or coherence what he wished the United States to 
do with his money. Some members, as John Randolph, were 
opposed to receiving it on the ground, probably not wide of the 
mark, that a great nation was not a distributing reservoir for 
idosyncratic philanthropists. To add to this Mr. Smithson 
offended some of the more aristocratic members by his illegiti- 
mate descent. His original name had been James Lewis 
Macie ; his father had been the Duke of Northumberland and 
his mother the niece of the Duke. of Somerset. He was a 
scientific man of much industry and good professional acquain- 
tance. His death occurred at Geneva, Italy, in 1829. He is 

Hut H * 

f,41 J 





said never to have visited the United States, nor to have had 
any friends residing here. His bequest was announced to Con- 
gress by President Jackson in 1835. The money, which 
amounted to above $515,000, in gold, was obtained by Richard 
Rush and brought to the country in 1838. This money was 
lent to the United States Government by Levi Woodbury, Sec- 
retary of the Treasury, and was invested in Arkansas State 
bonds at par. Some of this money was squandered by Senator 
Sevier, of that State, and his harpies, and the whole amount 
was lost and the bonds repudiated. Congress debated what to 
do with the bequest for several years, and between John Quincy 
Adams and Robert Dale Owen, an agreement was completed 


by which the present Smithsonian Institute was organized in 
April, 1846. Professor Joseph Henry, of Princeton College, 
New Jersey, was made the Secretary, or really the Regent, and 
Superintendent of the whole concern. This Secretary was the 
first official in Washington after the President who appropria- 
ted to himself a residence in one of the public buildings. A 
large reservation of 52 acres was selected on the knoll between 
the Tiber and the Potomac, nearly in the centre of the city. 
The architect was Mr. Renforth, of Washington, and he de- 
signed an edifice of mediaeval character, a sort of battlemented 
abbey, of Seneca redstone, with towers, chapels, etc., 426 feet 
long by about 60 feet wide. This building cost $325,000, and 
when it burned down in the war period it was again rebuilt so 
that its erection and maintenance were said in 1869 to have 
involved an outlay of $450,000. As ha^ been well said, the 
Smithsonian can be indefinitely extended, and there is archi- 
tectural reason why it should be, to eke out its shallow depth, 
in almost any mediaeval military style. 

Although a handsome object in the landscape of the city, 
contrasting well with the large classical offices of the Govern- 
ment, it is by no means a favorite with those around it. The 
interior of the building has an unsatisfying and inhospitable 
look, much of it being closed from the public and given up to 
mere inhabitancy, while the grounds around it, which, until 
recently, were separated from Pennsylvania Avenue by a 
nasty, exuding creek, were patrolled by lewd and offensive 
vagrants, who often committed outrages upon citizens ventur- 
ing to cross from one part of the city to another after dark. 
The efficiency of the Smithsonian has been much disputed, 
although it has assisted several scientific expeditions and 
helped in the publication of technical treatises. It maintains 
a very perfect correspondence with foreign learned societies 
and publishes an annual report, which is said to be a little 
more dry than the report of its associate, the Agricultural De- 
partment. Its uses are nondescript, and the average inquirer 
will give it up when he asks precisely what they are, and re- 
ceives in response a whole essay, which he cannot recollect. 



All previous sensations of a civil character in the history 
ot the nation were eclipsed in the years 1872-73 by the dis- 
closures which take the general name of Credit Mobilier. My 
connection, as one seeking information, with this celebrated 
scandal, may not improperly make the narrative of this 

It was in September, the tenth of the month, that I received 
by telegraph a commission to proceed to the State of Arkansas, 
and unravel some local mutiny there, and while making some 
preliminary readings, a second communication, fro'm another 
source, asked me to visit Philadelphia and New York. It 
became necessary, therefore, to undertake the second commis- 
sion with immediate despatch in order to improve the oppor- 
tunity for the first and more distant one. The remainder of 
this chapter is my report of Commission No. 2, as published 
in the Chicago Tribune. 

The most uneasy and serious scandal which we have yet had 
has undesignedly grown out of the lawsuit of Henry S. 
M'Comb, of Wilmington, Del., to compel the delivery to him 
of certain shares of stock in the Credit Mobilier. The suit is 
taking place in Philadelphia, which staid and respectable 
Quaker City is the only part of the country uninformed about 
this cause celebrS. The case in its context, has been charged 
to implicate two Speakers of the House of Representatives, 



half-a-dozen Congressmen, and other dignitaries. " Our 
Correspondent " in Washington was not, therefore, surprised 
to receive a telegraphic despatch, as follows : " Please go to 
Philadelphia and investigate impartially the Credit Mobilier 
affair. — Horace White." 

The diary of this pursuit, as far as the first day's prosecu 
tion is concerned, will show a novice how many things have 
to be done within a given time to answer one newspaper 

At early daylight (September 12) I reached Philadelphia, 
investigated the docket at the Supreme Court Office there, saw 
the counsel for the plaintiff, telegraphed the plaintiff in New 
York for a meeting, after ascertaining his whereabquts ; traced 
the Credit Mobilier back to its origin, interviewed members of 
the Legislature contemporaneous with the passage of the act, 
and, in ten hours, was on my way to New York, reading, as I 
traveled, the long report of the Credit Mobilier suit with the 
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in " Smith's Pennsylvania 
State Reports," volume 17. 

In half an hour after I reached New York, I was in con- 
versation, with the plaintiff and other authorities, and that 
night sat up to " catch the manners living as they rise," by 
jotting down the matter most easily forgotten. 

At the early hour at which I began to perambulate Phila- 
delphia, I knew of but two attorneys nearly certain to he in 
their offices, the diligent and alert Henry R. Edmunds, one 
of my old schoolmates, now full of learning and business, and 
covered with venerable red hair ; and the gristly and tough 
Joseph A. Pile, who works all night amongst the Pandects, 
and labors all day over Roman and Quaker law. Sure enough, 
there they were. 

" Gentlemen, do you know anything of the suit of Henry S. 
M'Comb, who spells the Mick without a c, the c having dropped 
out by reason of the distant period when it got in — against the 
Credit Mobilier of America ? " 

» Why, no. There's nothing in the Ledger or the Franklin 


Almanac about it. "We've read everything this morning but 
the obituary poetry and the editorials, which we preserve to 
the end of the year, for the solace of old age and the repose of 

" The Credit Mobilier," said the Hon. Joseph Pile, " is all 
the while here engaged in mysterious suits. They are often 
equity suits, before Masters in Chancery, or before the Supreme 
Court of the State, and everything about them is hushed up. 
Nothing much is published, and we are all in the dark. The 
State sued the Credit Mobilier for taxes, and this involved 
appeals and two trials. But we have seen no mention of any 
such case as M'Comb vs. The Credit Mobilier." 

Here the Hon. H. R. Edmunds produced a large volume of 
the Acts of the Legislature of 1859, and he said : 

" Gath, this is-the«beginning of the Credit Mobilier. It was 
snaked through the Legislature fourteen years, ago, under the 
name of the Pennsylvania Fiscal Agency." 

I took the book and made this note from it : 

The Fiscal Agency began November 1, 1859, W. F. Packer 
being Governor of the State. The " Pennsylvania Fiscal 
Agency " was incorporated, with the following Commissioners, 
or Directors : Samuel Reeves, Ellis Lewis, Garrick Mallory, 
Duff Green, David R. Porter, Jacob Zeigler, Charles M. Hall, 
Hon. R. Kneass, Robert J. Ross, William T. Dougherty, Isaac 
Hugus, C. M. Reed, William Workman, Asa Packer, Jesse 
Lazear, C. S. Kauffman, C. L. Ward, and Henry M. Fuller. 

The act of incorporation was of the most general and dis- 
cursive character, and covered all operations under the sun, 
banking, opening of offices in foreign lands, funding State 
debts, assuming the responsibility for corporation debts, guar- 
anteeing bonds, etc. It provides that the general offices shall 
be in Philadelphia, and that a certain proportion of the 
Directors shall be citizens of Pennsylvania. This act is in 
six clauses, and it provides that the corporation shall consist 
of 50,000 shares of $100 each, and that when 5,000 shares are 
subscribed, and 5 pe? cent, thereon paid, the shareholders may 


elect five directors and begin business. The Fiscal Agency, 
therefore, contemplated a capital of 15,000,000, but required 
only $25,000 to be put up in the first place, and all facilities 
were given for watering the stock, etc. The State was to be 
entitled to a tax of one-half a mill on capital stock for each 1 
per cent, of dividends. 

And this little charter, said our correspondent, brought to 
life one year before the election of President Lincoln, is the 
foundation of the stupendous Credit Mobilier, which, as an 
alias of the Union Pacific Railroad Company, robbed the 
generous Age and Nation which endowed it, and bribed the 
Congress of the people ! 

"It had to stand a suit two years ago," said Mr. Pile, "for 
taxes due the State under the charter, amounting to above 
half a million of dollars. All tax-suits of this sort are tried 
in Dauphin, the county of the State Capital. The Company, 
then under the alias of the Credit Mobilier, beat the State, 
reversed the decision of Judge Pearson, and paid nothing. 
You will find the suit here in Volume 67, Pennsylvania State 

" And here," said Mr. Edmunds, is the continuation of the 
Fiscal Agency in a report only five years old. It put off its 
old apparel and took a disguise." 

Our correspondent then copied the original act by which the 
State gave the Fiscal Agency extended powers to veil the 
operations of the Union Pacific Railroad Ring : 

" Laws of Pennsylvania, 1867, page 291, Act No. 278. 

" A further supplement to the act to incorporate the Penn- 
sylvania Fiscal Agency, approved November 1, 1859, empower- 
ing said Company, now known as the Credit Mobilier of 
America, to provide for the completion of certain contracts. 

" Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of 
Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in 
General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the 
authority of the same, That, in every case where the Credit 
Mobilier of America — a body corporate established by the laws 


of the Commonwealth — has heretofore agreed, or shall here- 
after agree, to aid any contractor with a railroad company, by 
advancing money to such contractor, of by guaranteeing the 
execution of a contract, for the building, construction, or 
equipment of a railroad, or for material or rolling-stock, it 
shall be lawful for the said Credit Mobilier of America to take 
such measures as will tend to secure the full and faithful per- 
formance of the contract ; and the said Credit Mobilier of 
America, may to that end, appoint its own officers, agent, or 
superintendent, to execute the contract in place of the con- 
tractor so aided or guaranteed, — saving, nevertheless, to all 
parties, their just rights under the contracts, according to their 
true- intent and meaning. 

(" Signed,") ' 

"John P. Glass, Speaker, H. K..," 
"L'otjis W.Hall, Speaker, Senate." 
" Approved, the 28th day of February, A. D. 1867." 

" John W. Geary, Governor." 

" You will find out here," said my informant, " that nothing 
ever leaks out about the Credit Mobilier. Ben. Brewster is 
their attorney, and the papers are taken out of court, so that 
nobody can get at them. I don't believe that any considerable 
; portion of the Bar knows anything about the suit of M'Comb 
vs. The Credit Mobilier." 

Our correspondent now set out to find somebody familiar 
with the Legislature at the period of the passing of the Fiscal 
Agency Act, so as to understand how this doppelgauger cor- 
poration, came into the world. All inquiry was answered by 
the name of Colonel A. R. McClure, as the person who had, 
at the time specified, been an attendant or member of the 
State Legislature. 

Colonel McClure, a little grayer and redder in these cam- 
paign-times than of old, being full of patriotism and public 
speaking, said as follows : 
■ " The Fiscal Agency began in the vagary of old Duff Green, 


Tyler's editor, who was a visionary man ; and the Legislature 
humored him by the presentation of the charter he solicited. 
He came to Harrisburg in the fall of 1859, without a cent, 
and being a kindly old bore, whose name and years were 
venerable, he wormed the charter from the members by per- 
sonal solicitation. We all supposed that he wanted to assume 
the consolidation and care of our State debt, which is divided 
up in parcels, and scattered around in many forms. The 
charter got irom Duff Green into the hands of Charles M. 
Hall, who sold it to the Credit Mobilier people, — some say to 
their proxy, George Francis Train. Hall is a creature of 
Simon Cameron, and was made Postmaster of Philadelphia 
under Johnson, and rejected." 

" Is that the way, Colonel McClure, that charters are bought 
and sold in this State ?" 

" Precisely. No business man thinks ol applying for a char- 
ter, and hazarding blackmail. He goes into the street, and 
buys some oi the many charters which have been issued to 
charter-jobbers, and cover all forms of corporate enterprise, 
from raising wrecks to funding the debts of nations. If we are 
fortunate we shall get a General Incorporation Act passed in 
the next State Constitution, and so dispense with the present 
peddling in nondescript charters." 

" Will you please tell me whether you know any ol the 
names of the ' Commissioners ' or incorporators under the 
first charter,— that of 1859 ?" 

" That is not vital," said Colonel McClure, " as none of 
these men are retained in the Credit Mobilier. However, 
Samuel J. Peeves is a wealthy iron-man of this city ; Ellis 
Lewis was Chief-Justice of the State ; Garrick Mallory was a 
great lawyer here ; David R. Porter was the father of Horace 
Porter, Grant's Secretary ; Jacob Zeigler was Clerk of the 
House ; H,orn R. Kneass was a city politician ; Robert J. Ross 
is a banker at Harrisburg ; W. T. Dougherty is the brother of 
another banker there ; Isaac Hugus was a Democratic State 
Senator and Cameron man ; C. M. Reed lived at Erie ; Asa 


Packer is the Lehigh millionaire ; Jesse Lazear was Congress- 
man from Greene County ; C. S. Kauffman was in the Legis- 
lature from Lancaster ; Henry M. Fuller was a Native Amer- 
ican Congressman ; and C. L. Ward, an operator of Towanda, 
is dead. The names in the Credit Mobilier are mainly ' blinds,' 
set up to stand for other people. The Fiscal Agency was a 
chimera ; the Credit Mobilier entered the skin of it as the 
devils possessed the crazy man." 

" Have you read the exposure of the (Congressmen in the 
suit of M'Comb against the Credit Mobilier ?" 

" Yes. It's true. The only names that surprise me there 
are Dawes and Boutwell, because both are too shrewd. My. 
experience in legislative things and corporations teaches me 
that the continuous legislation required to accomplish all the 
purposes of the Union Pacific Railroad, could not have been 
attained without bribery in the highest seats. Only the influ- 
ence of the highest leaders could have passed such rapacious 
acts through Congress, and no men of reputation would have 
pressed them upon their colleagues except By pecuniary inter- 
est. The letters of Ames are recognized as perfectly valid, and 
M' Comb's reputation in the middle States is that of a gentle- 
man who will not lie. The people implicated, who have been 
quaking over the probability of these exposures, must be reliev- 
ed that they have come." * 

Our correspondent now visited the office of the Clerk of the 
Supreme Court, in the venerable State House row. It was a 

* The New York Sun published the Credit Mobilier, exposure in the 
month of August, 1872, having, it is said, purchased a copy, surreptitiously 
taken from the Commissioner's ©ffice. The vital part of the abstracts pub- 
lished -were some letters of Oakes Ames to Henry S. M'Comb, saying that 
he had " placed Credit Mobilier Stock in Congress wliere it would do the 
most good," and stating the number of shares allotted to each qj certain 
States. A memorandum taken by M'Comb from Ames's pocket-book indi- 
cated that the Congressmen implicated were Dawes, Eliot, Blaine, Bout- 
well, Kelley, Schofield, Fowler, Patterson, Garfield, H. Wilson, Bingham, 
Colfax, and Brooks. 


little old hole, and two white-haired old parchment men were 
moving around the dockets, exceedingly impertinent as to the 
case we were looking for. As we approached the Credit 
Mobilier, everybody's spectacles seemed to take a jump, and all 
the venerable ears flapped like a puppet's when you pull a 
string. There was a smell of old sheepskins, and an impres- 
sion of obsolete styles of stenography all' over the place. 
Everybody looked like aged phonographic characters in 

Our correspondent got behind the docket-desk, and over- 
hauled the ponderous manuscript tomes. After looking 
without reward for a while, he took up an equity docket, and, 
on page 313, found the long-expected case of M'Comb vs. The 
Credit Mobilier." 

It is set down for the January term of 1869, number 19 in 
order. About the whole of one of the great folio pages is 
covered with the successive dispositions of the case, as it is 
now continued, now put over, now referred, and again post- 
poned. The last entries show that, on the 20th of April, 1872, 
J. E. Gowan, for plaintiff, had the time extended for closing 
plaintiff's testimony 90 days from date ; and that a further 
extension of 60 days had also been granted. The case, there 
fore will go over the Presidential election, as both set of litig- 
ants are Grant people. He polls the undivided vote of the 
Credit Mobilier, who think Greeley will not be a " Safe Pre- 
sident " for such operations as theirs. 

The defendants enumerated in this suit are as follows : 
Sidney Dillon, John B. Alley, Roland G. Hazard, Charles 
McGhrisky,* Oliver W. Barnes,* Thomas Rowland, Paul Pohl, 
jr.,* Oakes Ames, Charles H. Neilson, Thomas C. Durant, 
James M. S. Williams, Benedict Stewart,* John Duff, Charles 
M. Hall, and H. G. Fant. 

The five names to which the asterisk is affixed are stool- 
pigeons, put on by Ames & Co. For instance, Thomas Row- 
land is a shovel-maker and compeer of Ames in the same 
business, and a quiet country-side man in a hamlet near Phila- 


delphia. The names of McGhrisky, Barnes, Rowland, Pohl, 
andNeilson were afterwards indicated to me by M'Comb as of 
no potency or presence in the inside affairs of the Credit Mobil- 
ier. Another suit had been in process from October 3, 1868, 
a period of four years, and another commentary upon the end- 
less career of Chancery proceedings. Involving only $300 3 000, 
here were four years' work put upon this single piece of litiga- 
tion, r Verily, one might say, in a paraphrase of Mr. Lincoln : 
" Even so ; if every dollar taken by the swindler must be re- 
placed with another taken by the lawyer, still we must cry : 
' The judgments of the Lord are good and righteous alto- 
gether.' " 

There have been, at various times, employed by Colonel 
M'Comb, as plaintiff in this case, such counsel as William 
Strong, now Judge Strong, of the United States Supreme 
Bench, Jeremiah S. Black, and James E. Gowan. It is at 
present managed by S. G. Thompson, son of the Pennsylvania 
Chief-Justice Thompson, as associate of the Hon. Jeremiah S. 
Black. The defence is entrusted to Robert McMurtrie, who 
stands at the head of the Philadelphia Bar; as successor to 
John O'Brien, James Ottarson, and other less lawyers in the 
same case. This would seem to show that Dillon, Alley, Ames 
& Co. mean to contest strenuously the claims of M'Comb. 

It appeared that the Court had appointed A. W. Norris to 
take testimony in this proceeding in equity ; and searching out 
Norris's whereabouts, I found that he occupied the office ot 
S. G. Thompson, the plaintiff's counsel. The next step was 
to see whether Norris, or Thompson, or both, would satisfy a 
laudable curiosity, and give me the testimony to consume, 
assimilate, and exhale. 

Behold our correspondent, therefore on the way to the office 
of Thompson with a p. 

There are periods in life when the p in Thompson's name 
appears to be an insurmountable barrier. Such was the pre- 
sent. The mind of the correspondent, in its anxious, not to 
say precipitate condition, transferred to the p all that might be 



obdurate in mankind, and in Thompson individually, and fond- 
ly imagined that, if he had spelled the name in smooth, flow- 
ing fashion, Thomson, — with no thump to the pronunciation 
of the same, — he could have been a man of genial inclina- 
tion, and those conversational talents which aie conducive to a 
great deal of newspaper information unconsciously. Mentally 
assured that the p in Thompson's name would not permit him to 
be an obliging man, I took the precaution of stopping at the 
telegraph office and sending a message to Wilmington, Del., 
to inquire the whereabouts of Thompson's client, Colonel 

Arriving at Mr. Thompson's office, I recognized in him an 
acquaintance not far from my own age, and then I despaired. 
The newspaper profession, abused as it is, is the only one where 
a man never puts on airs over being the repository of anything. 
He sheddeth and imparteth like the gentle dew of Heaven 
upon the place beneath, even if a person of the same age 
should occupy the place. The only thing in which he is per- 
fectly at home is instruction. But your lawyer delights in 
magnifying his mission, and the extent of the confidence re- 
-posed in him. In Thompson's manner there was a deep and 
bibliological mystery, associated with a covert and gentlemanly 
sense of delight that he had come to be an authority. At first, 
the social animal, beaming and gladsome (I say gladsome, 
because nobody ever knew a lawyer to be really glad) , Thomp- 
son in a minute divined my errand, and asserted the counsel. 
"What a dulcet sound to the young and ardent lawyer lies in 
that word, Counsel. Behold him, referring to his grandfather 
in a subdued tone, but with more or less apparent solemnity, 
as "my client." Observe him step in advance of the pris- 
oner at the dock, saying: "'Sh! 'Honor, I appear as counsel 
for the prisoner ! " Nothing in life becomes him like these 
occasions, and, in the presence of a newspaper man, Thompson 
was now all counsel. 

" I think I know your purpose," he said; " it is the Credit 


Mobilier case. I am in an embarassing position as to that. I 
am — ahem ! — I am counsel for Colonel M'Comb." 

" Yes. But like Captain Cuttle when Sol Gills left his last 
will and testament, I say where's the testament, — the testi- 
mony ? " 

" A part of it has got out. Col. M'Comb has written to me 
to ask how it did leak out. Do you know a man named 
Gibson ? " 

"Yes. Gibson is the industrious mouse. He published 
eleven columns of this testimony in the New York Sun, as 
well as the Ames letter and memoranda." 

"There is a person of that name," said Mr. Thompson; I 
suspect I know how the letters got out. A man came to me 
with a letter from Judge Black. Perhaps I don't know. I 
think I do." 

There was great and impressive mystery at this point. Mr. 
Thompson fell to examining a copy of the New York Sun in 
my possession. He read it all over as if he had never before 
beheld it. He smiled a counsellor-kind of smile at times, as 
if he had recognized something. The counsellor finally told 
me the trial had been long because all equity proceedings are. 
so; that, when Judge Strong had charge of it, he could not 
take any step without consulting with Judge Black ; and that 
Colonel M'Comb had refused to leave the Ames letters, in their 
original, with the testimony, but had copies made. He said 
that the Ames letters were in existence ; that the implication 
of puDlic men appeared not yet to be exhausted ; and that I 
could see the testimony r with an order from M'Comb. As I 
left the office, Mr. Thompson said: 

" If you printed the testimony and letters, and all the people 
in the country read them, it wouldn't change a vote ? " 

" Perhaps not. But it is a horrible admission to make about 
one's countrymen. Nothing changes votes in this Christian 
age, but money and patronage ; is it so ? " 

I made up my mind that the part of the testimony already 
published, had first met the eye of Jerry Black, and that he 


had let it out to a reporter, who got access to the manuscript, 
and hastily copied or imitated such parts as he wanted. It 
also occurred to me, if any of the immaculate men referred to 
in that list of the bribed, had, all the while, been conscious 
that Jerry Black was aware of the purchase arid sale, and that 
young lawyers had also found it out, and that the area of ex- 
posure was inevitably widening toward explosion, how disturbed 
at times must have been their sleep ! The sleep of the dis- 
tinguished hypocrite, what agony it must be of nights ! To 
know that, in the hands of remorseless men there is a secret ; 
that all time and occasion press nearer and nearer to its 
revealment; that come it must, and that it must be met. 
Such is the modern Eugene Aram in high places. But then 
"it wouldn't change a vote ! " Yes, it will. Not this year, 
perhaps, but the next or the next, and it will change history, 
too, and men's conception of man, and the man's happiness, 
and the children's heritage of honor. Politics may apologize 
for bribery, but the dead corpse will be apparent the longer it 
is kept. No political party in the world can reason away the ! 
conclusion that, if a trusted statesman sold his vote and influ- 
ence, the public faith, and the public law, and all the while 
played the outward part of piety and honor, he did a thing of 
infamy, and lived a lie, and his face will be turned to the wall. 
Finding that the Colonel, the plaintiff, was not in "Wilming- 
ton, but in New York City, I telegraphed to No. 20 Nassau 
street, and, in half an hour, got ah answer, giving me his 

. address, and saying he would see me. I bought the State 
Beport with the long Credit Mobilier case in it, to read on the 
way, and was soon in the midst of a mass of villany. What 
things people will do to make money! Half the world, it 
would appear from the law-book, ought to be in the penitenti- 

_arji~._ Here is a charter begged by a poor old man for a vision- 
ary end, or, perhaps, to serve some scheme of rapacity never 
developed, which, stamped with mendicancy at its birth, goes 
through the stews of politics and commerce, and becomes at 
last the bawd of men to whom this country has been generous, 


/ selecting them to lay a path between the coasts of the Conti- 
nent, 'and liberally advancing them money and credit to per- 
form the work with conscientious celerity, and make their lives 
useful and their names renowned. With the spirit of Joseph's 
brethren, they hasten to put the heir in the pit, and institute 
therefor a bastard corporation, parasitical in its nature, which 
shall eat the life of its wholesome brother, and divert the rev- 
enues and gifts of a "highway whose achievement the world 
admires, into 'a mere " fence," or receiving-shop for stolen goods. 
Having succeeded in this, beyond the usual fate of roguery, 
they nest turn about and swindle the Commonwealth, which 
gave them the bastard charter, out of above half a million of 
taxes. Such was the purport of the long report I read on the 
way to New York City. Prosperous we are indeed, but at 
\ what moral cost ? Will the world believe that, while we were 
waging a warfare with the slavery of the whole body, we were 
making the patriotism in whose name we fought, a cover for 
such crimes as the Credit Mobilier ? 

The Pacific Railway exists ; but the corner-stone of the 
masons thereof was plunder. 

At 9 o'clock I walked into the great commercial, social, and 
gamester's market in New York, the Fifth Avenue Hotel, and 
soon afterward the handsome Colonel Harry M'Comb walked 

He had been a. poor boy, native and now citizen of Wilming- 
ton, Del. Handsome and prepossessing from his childhood up* 
he was prosperous enough, when the war began, to become a 
merchant in supplies, and distinguished himself by the energy 
and resolution with which he competed with men of greater 
capital, and wider reputation. He is said to be the richest 
man in Delaware, the Duponts probably " excepted," and his 
business at home, in Wilmington, is the tanning of leather. 
With an orthodox education, and the best social connections 
in a quiet and virtuous community, he superadds to the dashing 
contractor and merchant, the semi-Southern tone and spirit of 
genial address, magnanimous personal impulses, the touch of 


honor, and the carriage of a man of the world, yet heedful of 
his reputation. Nature designed him for a large part in life ; 
he is the equal of any to whom he speaks, and courteous to all. 
In New York he takes a rank relatively as high as at Jiome. 
Invincible, imposing, cool, agreeable, he is the least provincial 
and the most exalted of men of his class. He is portly, care- 
ful of dress, loud in nothing, with bonhommie, natural intelli- 
gence, and ease. 

" Our correspondent" at once made known the object of his 
errand, and the conversation which followed is here set down. 
An interview such as follows, often does injustice to a public 
man by the unavoidable misplacing of the order of questions 
and answers, so that statements often appear climatic, and 
things take context of themselves, and give impressions which 
the just order of the dialogue would not show. The subjoined 
is believed to be a fair and candid relation of this interview: 

" Colonel M'Comb," said our correspondent, my errand is to 
get from you the impartial truth as to the revelations of late 
made concerning the sums of Credit Mobilier stock allotted to 
members of Congress about the year 1868. You have seen the 
published extracts and the printed memorandum made by you 
upon the back of a letter from Oakes Ames, in which memo- 
randum 2,000 or 3,000 shares, respectively, are set down to 
these persons: Blaine, Colfax, Boutwell, Garfield, Kelley, Bing- 
ham, Senators Patterson, of New Hampshire, Fowler and Henry 
Wilson ; Schofield and Kelle^ the deceased member Eliot, and 
Henry L. Dawes. I wish Xxj know if this is a hoax or a re- 
ality. I also wish permission, as so much has been said already, 
to see the testimony." 

Colonel M'Comb: "I have given my testimony before the 
Commissioner to take it by appointment of the Court. The 
letters from Oakes Ames are in my possession, and copies of 
them have been taken in the testimony. But I was surprised 
to see the letters and several columns of the testimony printed 
here in the public papers, and disclaim any agency in that reve- 
lation. It would not be proper for me to give you an order to 


see the testimony, unless Mr. McMurtrie, counsel for the de- 
fense concurred." 

"But why permit these terrible excerpts to go broadcast, if 
they are not parts of the testimony, to do injury to eminent 
and innocent people ? 

Colonel M' Comb : "They are parts of the testimony, and 
that is the reason why I can have no hand in anticipating their 
inevitable publicity. Somebody in your profession has had 
access to the Commissioner's manuscript, and taken that part 
of the evidence, sometimes copied it witli haste, and often 
without accuracy, and again attempted to condense it. Helms, 
besides, copied injurious parts without the link between. But 
what is printed is substantially there. I endeavored to keep 
the names of those gentlemen back, but Mr. Oakes Ames was 
perfectly indifferent to the exposure of his friends. He is 
about to retire from Congressional life, and will take no step to 
cover anybody's nakedness. 

" How did you seek to avoid this disclosure ? " 

Colonel M'Comb : " In the first place, I tried to have the pro- 
ceedings before a private Board of Referees or Commissioners, 
to be named by the Court, both parties to the suit consenting. 
They had all along been saying that my suit was merely a 
blackmail operation ; and, when I brought it to trial, and ex- 
pressed my willingness to put it in arbitration, Ames, Alley, 
Dillon, and the rest, cried : ' Oh ! he will never dare to put it 
in open Court ; he has no case, and shows that he has none by 
making it a private trial ! ' I was thus forced to bring open suit 
in the State Courts of Equity. I laid my papers of all sorts, 
which bore reference to this suit, before my counsel, Judge 
Black. He read them over, and said: ' M'Comb, these men 
will never dare to let this case come to trial with these reputa- 
tions involved in it.' But they did, and fought and defied it at 
every step. Finally I came to a spot where, in the cross-ex- 
amination, these letters of Oakes Ames were vital to my cause, 
and I again notified Alley and the rest, that I should be com- 
pelled to put them in. Ames knew all about their contents, 


but he did not move one step. I produced them after repeated 
taunts to do so, and a transcript of them has come to light, as 
could not, probably, be avoided. I have no hesitation in saying 
that, had I been assisted by gentlemen as Ames was, I should 
have made every sacrifice rather than betray them, as he has 
permitted the course of this suit to do. With all of those 
gentlemen we stand upon terms of fair fellowship, and most of 
them are our party friends." 

" There is no- politics in this suit, then?" 

Colonel M' Comb: " None whatever ! I told the editor of 
your paper, at the Brevoort House, last July, that I could not 
support Greeley ; that Grant was not my first choice, but that 
I could not be convinced to vote for Greeley. The suit in which 
I am plaintiff began before. General Grant had fairly got into 
his office. It is for a direct and considerable money-loss which 
Oakes Ames obliged me to make by his bad faith, — a loss 
which is not merely in stock not delivered, but stock which I 
took from my own share to keep a contract with a friend. The 
letters of Ames belong to this suit, showing that he professed 
to divert my stock to Legislative uses, and act as the trustee 
for those Congressmen to whom he presented it ; and the 
memorandum on the back of one of these letters shows that 
just the amount he took from me he put to the account of the 
persons thereon named. The names he read to 'me from a 
memorandum book, and I wrote them down in the office as he 
dictated them. They remain as they were put on that letter, 
many seasons ago, and 1 repeat that, if I had not got those 
letters in at the time I put them in, they would not have been 
in order subsequently." 

" How came you to lose your own stock through Ames' con- 
fiscating yours ? " 

Colonel M'Comb : " It happened in this wise : Hamilton G. 
Fant asked me to take up for him, when I came to New York, 
$25,000 worth of Credit Mobilier shares. I gave the order for 
it, and told Crane, the secretary, to draw on him for the money. 
They said they did not know much about Fant, and preferred 


my check. I got a power of attorney from Fant to make the 
purchase, but the power of attorney was bad in form, and 
Crane, the Secretary of the Credit Mobilier, made out a new 
and correct power of attorney, — which is a link of evidence in 
my suit. 1 got a. certified check of my own, and paid for the 
stock. This check was mislaid in the office ; and when, after 
some time, it was discovered that Fant had not paid for his 
stock, the Company drew a draft upon him for the amount. 
His circumstances had meantime changed, and the draft came 
back protested. The Company now notified me that they ex- 
pected me to pay the draft, and this led to a search for the cer- 
tified check, which came to light. At this period I was called 
away, and was absent some time — some three or four months 
— attending to matters in a distant quarter. But I had prom- 
ised Mr. King, of Massachusetts, to deliver to him $25,000 
worth of stock, and expected to give him Fant's stock. Oakes 
Ames, however, would not deliver to me Fant's stock, and, in 
excuse, showed me' in the registry-book that he had disbursed 
the $25,000 amongst the members of Congress aforesaid. I 
was, therefore, forced to take of my own Credit Mobilier stock 
$25,000 worth at the original valuation, and deliver it to 
King. My suit is for this stock, and the dividends which it 
produced. Whether Oakes Ames kept it, or paid dividends in 
bonds or money out of it to others, is not my business to in- 
quire. I want what is mine." 

" How does Fant's name appear in your suit added to the 
list of defendants ?" 

Colonel M'Comb : " They had arranged at one time to get 
Fant on their side, to rout me in the suit, and I put him in 
with .the rest." 

" Are not some of the names of the defendants used as mere 
blinds ? " 

Colonel M'Comb : " Yes. Rowland, Pohl, and several others 
are of no note in the Credit Mobilier." 

" Who got the charter for the Credit Mobilier ? " 

" George Francis Train got it for Durant, who paid him 
$50,000 for it." 


" Why do the Ames party dislike Durant ? " 

Colonel M'Comb : " They were jealous of him, and have 
been slandering him for several years, saying that he is dis- 
honest ; that he made away with bonds, earnings, etc. At one 
time, I was induced to believe these things ; but I found Du- 
rant had more brains and more honesty than their party." 

" Is the testimony of Ames, Alley, and others, in the suit of 
the State ol Pennsylvania for taxes, reliable ! " 

Colonel M'Comb : " No, it is all false. They swore they 
made no dividends, when Ames' letters to me assert just the 

" Colonel M'Comb, what does this line mean in the memo- 
randa as published: 'Painter (Rep.) for Quigley, 3,000?' I 
know who Painter is, and suppose the ' Rep.' means reporter. 
Who is Quigley ? " 

Colonel M'Comb: "Quigley is a townsman of mine, in 
Wilmington, Del. That has been erroneously copied from my 
memoranda in the Sun. The reporter who took it down for 
that paper must have been nervous, and he has made several 
mistakes. The names of Painter and Quigley belong to an- 
other memorandum. They are interested with me in the canal 
property between Washington and Alexandria, a piece of prop- 
erty owned and controlled by myself, Ames, Quigley, and some 
others. The figures 3,000 at the end ot each name do not 
signify shares in the Credit Mobilier, but dollars' worth 
of stock. If you look at the published memoranda you 
will see that no word occurs after these figures. It is 
true that $3,000, at the rate of profit obtained by the stock- • 
holders, would come to about $18,000. Therefore, the $25,000 
worth of stock which Oakes Ames says he held as trustee for 
the Congressmen named would be worth many times its face. 
I held my suit for this stock in the Credit Mobilier to be far 
above $300,000. That represents, as near as may be, the 
whole of the divided sum, provided Ames paid it to them, set \ 
down in that memorandum to the Congressmen implicated. I J 
feel distressed at the publicity given to this thing, on account 


of their reputations, and the annoyance it gives to these gentle- 
men ; but I have done all in my power to get what is due me 
without taking this step." 

"Will you give me an order upon your counsel, S. G. Thomp- 
son, to look at the testimony taken before the Commissioner, 
A. W. Harris ?" 

Colonel M'Comb: " I will, if you get a similar o»der, or the 
consent of Robert C. McMurtrie, the counsel for the other 
side. But I do not want to be a party to any political designs 
which may be based upon the testimony, and my position as 
plaintiff is too delicate to take the advance in throwing that 
testimony open to the reporters. The fact is, Mr. McMurtrie, 
defendant's counsel, is now in possession of all the testimony ; 
he borrowed it some time ago, and keeps it under the excuse 
of wishing to read it carefully." 

" Where is Oakes Ames ?" 

Colonel M'Comb: "He is coming to this city to-morrow. 
If he denies those letters, I shall feel myself at liberty to let 
you see them : and, if you can get an authorized denial from 
him that he wrote them, I will give you an order on Thompson 
to look at the manuscript." 

Colonel M'Comb then said: "What use do. you propose to 
make of all this matter you have been gathering up in Phila- 
delphia and New York ?" 

Correspondent: "Print it all to satisfy the wholesome inquis- 
itiveness of the period, pin the responsibility where it belongs, 
and let people unfairly implicated explain their way out. 
The matter is certainly the greatest of all Congressional scan- 
dals. If Gollaclay, Whittemore, and such poor shoats are to 
be expelled for selling West Point Cadetships for a few hun- 
dred dollars, don't you think Speakers of the House, Senators, 
and sijch magnates ought to be brought to the bar of public 
opinion for abetting a swindle like the Credit Mobilier, pushing 
private mortgage ahead of the Government's first mortgage, 
and otherwise prefering the claims of a corporation to the rights 
of their country and the tax-payers ? " 


Colonel M'Comb : " Well, I have no responsibility in this 
personal part of the suit ; and I tell you now that, if my object 
was merely scandal, I could produce a letter not yet printed or 
proffered in the testimony, which would extend the area of 
implication, draw in other names of persons not suspected of 
collusion in any gainful matter, and make the present unfortu- 
nate disclosure secondary only." 

" Has Oakes Ames no feeling for his colleagues in Con- 
gress ?" 

Colonel M'Comb : " No. Selfishness is implanted in Ames 
on the widest scale. He lias the hide of a bull. If he had the 
sentiment of honor he would do anything, — leave the Country, 
—father than put the past services of his friends to the test." 

" What were the circumstances under which you took that 
memorandum ? Please repeat it." 

Colonel M'Comb : (t Why, I took it from Ames himself, he 
reading from a memorandum which he took from his pocket, 
to account to me for the stock he would not furnish, and, by 
accident, I made the memorandum at that moment on the back 
of one of Ames' own letters to me, — the same which has got into 
the testimony. That is how the thing leaked out. The letter 
was coerced from me in the course of litigation, and being dis- 
covered, the memorandum was made public with it." 

" Then the weakness of the evidence is in the fact that you 
alone wrote the memorandum, and nobody can get the stock- 
register to confirm your memorandum. At the same time, the 
very incompleteness of this evidence at law will be moral proof 
to thousands of men. It lacks the lawyer's arrangement, but 
what is missing in evidence carries most conviction." 

Colonel M'Comb : " Ames might have made a false entry 
of the names of the Congressmen, or he might have dictated 
entries of names not on the register. I had no suspicion of 
such possibilities at the time. We were on fairly amicable 
terms, members of the same Company, and he read straight 
on, giving me time to copy the list." 

" It seems to me, Colonel, that you are employing a formid- 


able array of counsel for a very doubtful consequence. What 
do Ames, Allen, Dillon & Co. care for the Credit Mobilier char- 
ter now, having worn it out, and having no responsibility within 
the State of Pennsylvania longer? The Credit Mobilier has 
about wound up, has it not ?" 

Colonel M'Comb: " No. It is still worth three millions of 
dollars at least, and its charter is worth preserving." 

" Are you still a stock-holder?" 

Colonel M'Comb : " Yes. I possess six [or sixty, corre- 
spondent not certain] shares, and my suit is not to get in, but 
to get my proportion of what I have paid for." 

" Is Oakes Ames worth anything ?" 

Colonel M'Comb : " Yes. Three or four millions." 

While a part of the above conversation was taking place, two 
gentlemen sat beside Colonel M'Comb and our correspondent, 
viz: H.D. Newcomb, President of the Louisville and Nashville 
Railroad, and Josiah Bardwell, an owner of Credit Mobilier 

Colonel Newcomb informed me that Mr. Bardwell invested 
$50,000 in the Credit Mobilier, and that his- net drawings 
thereon had amounted to $360,000. Mr. Bardwell is a stout, 
brown-whiskered gentleman, and he said, pleasantly : 

" Gath, you ought to go and talk to Oakes Ames to-morrow. 
He will talk freely. He don't care." 

" How much do you infer," said Mr. 'Bardwell to ' our corre- 
spondent,' " were the proceeds or profits of Credit Mobilier 
investments ?" 

Applying the information derived only a moment , before on 
the other side, our correspondent answered : 

" About six or seven for one, — say on an investment of $5),- 
000, about $360,000 net !" 

This shot seemed to tickle Mr. Bardwell, and he laughed in 
a serio-comic way. 

" Well," said he," provided that is true, we took a good deal 
of risk." 

" Yes," said another, " I wish I had some of that risk. The 



stock and the dividends I don't mind, but I am quite put out 
that I didn't get some of the risk." 

Here there was a general laugh. , 

Colonel Newcomb said, directly, — no other person at the 
moment present : 

" What surprises me most is, that the newspaper profession, 
with all its acuteness, did not discover this matter long ago, — 
four years ago, — it being an old subject of conversation amongst 
railway men and operators. You will observe that Speaker 
Blaine denies that he ever received or owned any stock or 
money in the Credit Mobilier. My understanding is, that no 
stock was given, but that the dividends were in the bonds given 
to the Railroad Company, which in turn became the dividends, 
etc., of the Credit Mobilier. A man set down as having an 
interest would merely be presented with bonds at periods when 
dividends came to be declared, and some of the earliest of such 
dividends would clear off his stock of indebtedness." 

It was now near midnight, and the company separated. 
Colonel M'Comb said, before going to bed : 

" I have talked more to-night on this subject than I have yet 
allowed myself to do. Three New York newspaper men have 
been to see me to-day, and I have refused to speak, being already 
annoyed at the publication of my garbled parts of evidence, 
and at the appearance of Ames' letters. There, for example, 
is the letter of Crane, the Secretary of the Credit Mobilier, 
which is omitted. I did not want anything published, and the 
omissions and the publications are equally annoying. I have 
told you this to satisfy you that I am merely going straight on 
to get my dues in a business suit, and am no politician at any 
time. I shall vote for General Grant, and could never vote for 
Greeley anyway." 

" Why ?" 

"He is too much of a whirligig. Good-night." 

Wondering if Greeley were more of a whirligig than the 
Credit Mobilier, which began with Duff Green, passed along to 
George Francis Train, fell as a family chattel into the hands of 


Tom Durant, was gobbled up by Oakes Ames, Sidney Dil- 
lon, and John B. Alley, and has finally become a bombshell in 
Congress, exploding the caucus, our correspondent also retired 
to his room, made his notes, and composed himself to rest, 
congratulating himself that he had deserved well of his coun- 

The above was the first letter published confirmatory of the 
disclosure from a principal. 



Perhaps nothing in American history will bear comparison 
with the Credit Mobilier as a drama in which all the human 
emotions have been played upon from farce to tragedy. The 
subject is of the grandest area, and the conspiracy within it 
close and criminal "as in any scheme of treason aimed at a 
great empire. Look at the dates, and see what they imply : 

In the Summer of 1862, a Pacific Railroad was empowered 
by Congress. In 1869 the road was built, and cars were 
running from New York to San Francisco. In 1872, ten years 
after the Government exercised its generosity, the chief 
builders and capitalists of the enterprise appeared like common 
criminals at the bar of public opinion, and the highest heads 
in Congress were dragged down for complicity in their crime. 
Two separate investigations were held in the House of Repre- 
sentatives, and one in the United States Senate. Two mem- 
bers of Congress, Oakes Ames and James Brooks, and one 
Senator, James W. Patterson, were reported back for expul- 
sion. But public opinion was so far from satisfied, and 
Congress so wholly demoralized by apprehensions of other 
exposures, that neither House took definite action, and Con- 
gress adjourned under a cloud, and the entire country, which 
had just passed through a presidential election, was overcast 
with doubt, shame, „and indignation. The two members 
marked for expulsion died in little more than two months 



and within a few days of each other. It is true that one of 
them was a sufferer from bodily disease, and the other was an 
old man, but the public superstition connected in their obitu- 
ary the tragedy and its context, and not all the funeral pomp 
could clear the stigma from the dead, nor obtain a revocation 
of public sentiment in favor of the score or more men who had 
been members and Senators, and had abused the magnificent 
dowry of the nation. Almost while the funeral services of 
Brooks and Ames were being said, the United States Govern- 
ment was filing complaint and bill in equity at Hartford, 
Connecticut, May 26, 1873, in the Circuit Court of the. United 
States, against " The Union Pacific Railroad Company and 
others," of which a newspaper despatch said: 

" This marks the opening of the great legal struggle between 
the Government on one side and two of the greatest and most 
extraordinary corporations ever created on the other, and will, 
beyond doubt, occupy some of the attention of the Courts for 
ten, perhaps twenty, years to come. It is, unquestionably, the 
most gigantic litigation on record, and the printed complaint 
and exhibits appended thereto, twenty-five in number, make a 
book of 134 printed pages. 

" The total sum to be accounted for will, if a verdict be 
given against all the defendants, be probably not less than 
$25,000,000, and interests in the litigation may be transmitted, 
in all likelihood, to the second generations of the posterity of 
some of the parties defendant." 

An examination of this bill shows that it makes defendants 
not only about one hundred rich individuals but also the 
following corporations : the Union Pacific Railroad Com- 
pany, a corporation created by acts of Congress of the 
United States, whose principal office for business is located 
at Boston, in the State of Massachusetts, and its President, 
Horace F. Clark, of the city, county and State of New 
York ; the Credit Mobilier of America, a corporation cre- 
ated by the Legislature of the State of Pennsylvania, and 
located in Philadelphia, in said State, and its President, 


Sidney Dillon, of the city, county, and State of New York ; 
the Wyoming Coal and Mining Company, a corporation organ- 
ized under the general statutes of the State of Nebraska ; the 
Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company, a corporation 
organized under the general statutes ol the State ol New- 
York, and its President, John Duff, of Boston, in the State 
of Massachusetts ; the Pullman Palace Car Company, a cor- 
poration transacting business in Chicago, in the State of 
Illinois, and its President, George M. Pullman, of Chicago; 
and the Omaha Bridge Transfer Company, a corporation 
transacting business at Omaha, in the State of Nebraska. 

Amongst the individual defendants are ex-Congressman 
Henry M. Boyer, and Helen Boyer, his wife ; William Tracy, 
the executor of Congressman Brooks, deceased ; General G. 
M. Dodge, and Anne M. Dodge, his wife; the widow of ex- 
Senator Grimes ; and very many ex-Congressmen and hitherto 
respectable citizens. 

The United States attorneys claim in one paragraph of this 
bill that the following extraordinary state of morals and 
finance prevails, in the Union Pacific Railroad Company : 

" The Union Pacific Railroad Company is insolvent. The 
cost of the railroad and telegraph line was considerably less 
than one-half the sum represented by the aggregate of stock 
and other pretended liabilities of the company outstanding. 
The largest part of the stock and bonds of the company before 
mentioned was issued, in the name of the company, by -its 
managers, not in the interest of the company, but to enrich 
themselves in a manner and for purposes unauthorized by law. 
A large majority of the stock now habitually voted upon as of 
right, in electing officers and controlling the affairs of B the 
company, is stock issued in a manner not authorized by law, 
and which was never paid for, in cash or in any other thing of 
equivalent value to the company. A large part of its income 
is used habitually in paying its managers high interest and 
commissions on loans, and in paying interest on bonds issued 
unnecessarily, without lawful motive or adequate consideration. 


" The earnings have not been sufficient to pay accruing 
interest on its floating debt and on the several classes of bonds 
issued by the company. Ten millions of dollars of its income 
bonds, so-called, will be due in September, 1874 ; but no fund 
has been provided or is accumulating for either new ties and 
rails or payment of said income bonds. Interest on United 
States bonds issued to the company is allowed to accumulate 
without payment, as before stated. The company is insolvent, 
and obliged to depend on temporary loans to save its obliga- 
tions "and promises from dishonor. Its principal managers 
treat it as depending on their personal credit to save it from 
bankruptcy, and make profit by loaning it money for high 
interest and commission." 

The Wilson Committee of Congress showed that the Credit 
MobilieF~conspirators made at least twenty-four millions^ of 
money beyond a liberal profit by contracting with themselves, 
not only to build the road, but to rob it in every possible man- 
ner after it should go into operation. The rapacity and wealth 
of the conspirators, and the general demoralization of American 
commercial and political society at the time, involved a whole- 
sale purchase of engineers, examiners, Congressmen, news- 
papers, cabinet officers, state governors, and judges. Society 
stood back appalled, unwilling, but compelled to believe the 
disclosures, and there can be no doubt that Republican 
Government lost the faith of many thousand men and women. 

Let us look at the two railway companies which interlink 
midway from the one highway to the Pacific. 

The Central Pacific Company at the West End sprung out of 
the needs of California, and the yearning of all the people and 
capitalists there to have quick and reliable connection with the 
bulk of their countrymen in the East. The Union Pacific 
Road, on 'the contrary, did not aim to give relief to a rising 
nation of people, by affording them an outlet to civilization, 
but it was simply a tie which should bind the Central Pacific 
to the country east of the Missouri. This intervening country 
was without large towns, and, indeed, without any population 


to speak of, except the few herders of cattle, and some isolated 
band of miners. The Union Pacific Road,' therefore, did not 
. promise to become, in a short time, a profitable highway to its 
devisors. It tumbled into the hands of certain lobbyists and 
Congressmen, who were much more concerned to make some- 
thing out of its construction than to build it up into a property, 
and wait, like the Central Pacific people, for the business to 
increase, the country to fill up, the mines to grow profitable, 
and the freights and passenger-travel to yield their legitimate 
award. The Union Pacific Railroad did not break ground 
until the 5th of November, 1865, — nearly two years after the 
Central Pacific had resolutely driven the spade, and looked with 
courage, almost beyond hope, at the steep sides of the Sierra 
Nevadas. To build the Union Pacific Road was a much lighter 
task than to lay the Central Pacific. On the former lines the 
long level plains and steppes afforded such easy accommoda- 
tions for railway builders that it is a matter of history how 
even six miles a day of track were laid when the work had 
been fully undertaken. The Union Pacific Company laid but 
forty miles of track up to January, 1866 ; but, in that inter- 
val, and after it, the incorporators of the road found out an 
opportunity to make money more easily than by patient pro- 

When the Credit Mobilier, so called, had been created, to 
receive the proceeds of the Government bonds, and sieve the 
same into the railroad through the pockets of the manipula- 
tors of the Mobilier, they warmed up, and were able to lay 305 
miles of road in one year, 235 in the next year, and finally, to 
complete the road, for the whole 1,085 miles, by the 10th of 
May, 1869. The Union Pacific Road retains to the present 
day 1,032 miles of road lying between Ogden and Omaha. It 
received a vast subsidy in land from Congress, besides such a 
stupendous bonded aid that, by the testimony of experts, it was 
able to lay the whole line within the amount in cash realized 
from the sale of its bonds, put a large fortune in the hands of 
everybody who belonged to the Credit Mobilier, and receive. 


besides, the whole of its land-grant, as a clear c margin of 
profit. * 

The scandals which accompanied the building of this road 
are, perhaps, forgotten by many of the old generation, and are 
scarcely known to tens of thousands ol the new generation 
which has arisen since the Pacific was opened. The traveller 
over the line at this day will observe that, whenever a rich 
piece of level ground is attained, the road begins to snake around 
like a great brook which draws water from every spring ; and 
sometimes the eye is bewildered to see what appears to be an- 
other railroad, parallel with that on which he travels ; but the 
information is soon afforded that it is the same piece of road 
he had gone over half an hour before. If he asks why it should 
be so crooked, the answer will be : " That was a part of the job." 
The Union Pacific Company let out the building of the road to 
its own contractors, under the name of the Credit Mobilier ; and 
they had no desire to make a short line where it was easy lay- 
ing track, because they received so much per mile in bonds 
from the United States, and whenever they could build the 
road for less per mile than the bonded aid, they went winding 
round and round, like a circle, and put the overplus in their 

" But," you will ask, " was the Government so blind that it 
could not see that a swindle was being perpetrated upon it in 
describing three sides of a square to get the distance of the 
fourth side ?" 

" Yes," will be the answer ; " but the road will be ex- 
amined by persons selected at the suggestion of the Company, 
and these were induced to report that everything was cor- 

All the above is literally true, as any' man knows who has 
crossed the plains. The time between Omaha and Ogden 
could be greatly decreased had this railroad been laid on the 
thrifty principle of a responsible organization and honest en- 
gineering. Begim as a job, the Union Pacific Railroad soon 
failed to be of interest to those who had prostituted the Govern- 


ment Charity, after it was opened. While the Central Pacific 
Road, of which it is the receiver, is a splendid piece of proper- 
ty, with its stock jealously kept in the hands of its original 
conceivers, the Union Pacific has several times changed owner- 
ship, President after President going out ; and the scandal of 
its management was so notorious that the Tammany Hall 
Judges thought it would "come down" easily and pay them 
black-mail. So Judge Barnard put it into the hands of a 
receiver in New York, and had its safe broken open with cold- 
chisels and gun-powder. 

At Saratoga, during the trial of Judge Barnard, Horace F. 
Clark, an associate of this road, was put upon the stand, and 
asked to give testimony concerning the Credit Mobilier. He 
declined to say anything about it, asserting that all he knew 
was hearsay and not evidence, and refused to bring the books 
of the corporation, which are now in the city ol Boston, within 
the jurisdiction of the State of New York. Hence the mystery 
involving the Credit Mobilier, — which we may call, for short, 
the ring of Union Pacific Directors and stockholders, who get 
the bonds, put the road down cheaply, and filch the remainder 
of the aid Government gives them, — and the difficulty of get- 
ting at any of the facts, although the people know that one of 
the most monstrous and impudent swindles ever perpetrated 
upon a magnanimous Nation was the act of that Union Direct- 
ory, of which Oliver Ames was President and Oakes Ames the 
Congressional Agent. It will ever be a subject of scandal to 
an inquiring posterity that Schuyler Colfax, as well as his 
successor, James G. Blaine, kept at the head ,of the Pacific 
Railroad Committee in the House of Representatives, this 
Oakes Ames. He^ was a large, heavy-set, secretive shovel- 
maker, from the Taunton District of Massachusetts, who kept 
his pocket full of free passes over this railroad, and dealt them 
out judiciously to whoever might be able to do him either good 
or injury. A member of Congress, and as such obligated to 
protect the State in its property in the Pacific Railways, Oakes 
Ames was, all the while, a member of the Credit Mobilier, and 


a brother of the President of the road. He never made a pro- 
position concerning this road which did not become the law or 
the observance by act of Congress. He carried through Con- 
gress a scandalous proposition by which the Government 
abandoned its first mortgage of this highway, and allowed the 
private mortgage bonds of the Railroad Company to take pre- 
cedence, and crowded- the Government with a second mort- 
gage. He was able, with the help of the most eminent men in 
the Republican party, to collect from the United States the 
gross sum for carrying the mails over this road, while, at the 
same time, he never paid the interest on the Government 
bonds as it accrued. In short, the Union Pacific Railroad 
first begged a loan from the United States of Jrom„ = sixteeit4o 
sixty thousand dollars a mile, and then robbed it of the. inter- 
est on the loan, forced the loan itself back to a contingent 
place, and pasted it over with another, and a private loan of 
its own, and then swindled it out of the whole gross sums for 
the mail service. • 

^During the time that these robberies were taking place, and 
the Credit Mobilier could be daily heard to chuckle as it re- 
ceived Government bonds, a great deal of wild and florid gam- 
mon was poured out upon the country. Our attention was 
called to the giant pines of California, whenever we proposed 
to look down to the ties, and see where our money had gone. 
If we presumed to ask when the road, under good manage- 
ment, might pay for itself, we were directed to spend no time 
upon such mercenary amusement, but to look, instead, on the 
splendor of Yo Semite Valley, and the wonderful apricots in 
the region of Los Angeles. There was so much drumming, 
and fifing, and fuss, and palaver, kept up ^about this glorious 
achievement (which was the easiest achievement ever under- 
taken by civilized man, when he had the money in his hands 
to do it with), that the imagination of the country was carried 
away from the solid business which belonged to the undertak- 
ing, and now, after many years of mystery, a private law-suit 


in a secondary city proves that murder must out at last, 
and that what is so ugly can never be wholly concealed. 

The Cs£dit Mobilier, it appears, built nearly the whole of the 
Union Pacific Railroad, or 1,038^ miles, which was a little 
more than fhe Union Pacific now retains. It really built 1,035 
miles, but sold to the Central Pacific subsequently all that por- 
tion of the road between Ogden and Promontory, and now 
owns less, by 6J miles of rails, than the Credit Mobilier, its 
stool-pigeon, built. For this 1,038^ miles of road the Credit 
Mobilier got United States bonds, amounting to more than 
$27,250,000, besides 12,080,000 acres of land. Upon this land 
were issued 7 per cent, land-grant bonds, to the amount of 
$10,400,000. The capital stock of the Credit Mobilier, mean- 
time, was 37,000 shares, at a par value of $100. . Exactly how 
designing and successful this transaction was, has come out in 
the letter of Oakes Ames to H. S. M'Comb. According to 
Ames' own admission in this letter, the Credit Mobilier paid 
less tb.£n $25,700 a mile to build the highway, or, in gross, 
$25,900,000. The letters from Oakes Ames are valid and un- 
doubted ; they are written by him, and appear in his hand- 
writing ; they were indited in the due course of business, and 
are now about four years and a half old. They show the 
secrecy, the Jesuitry, and the ingratitude of the corporation 
which could receive such an amount of help, and abuse the 
Government's confidence ; and they show, more than all, that 
it was a member of Congress who wrote these letters, and he 
implicated, in all secrecy and seriousness, men whom the 
country has delighted to honor. 

The country owes nothing perhaps to Henry S. M'Comb, who 
was one of the Credit Mobilier men, for having been the means 
of showing up their system of plunder. It seems that M'Comb 
was a fellow capitalist with Thomas C. Durant and joined Du- 
rant' s faction when the Mobilier people got to cheating each 
other. Durant had been a physician in the western part of 
Massachusetts, but he had too much worldly enterprise for 
professional life, and took to railroad contracting. He observed 


the drift of opinion to be in favor of a railway to the Pacific, 
and put himself forward in the project, but being a reckless 
speculator, without conscience toward his creditors, hi« country, 
his friends, or his friend's wife, he had no sooner become 
Vice-President of the Union Pacific railroad, than he sent 
George Francis Train to Pennsylvania to buy him one of 
those floating charters by which our modern legislatures em- 
power gamblers to cheat mankind. The name of Credit Mo- 
bilier was derived from a stock gambling corporation which 
existed in Paris during the reign of Napoleon III. Had the 
Pennsylvania legislature possessed anybody of general reading, 
and been particular about honesty, it would have suspected a 
corporation with such a title. Durant got his charter at such 
a time as to show that he meditated a swindle from the begin- 
ning. He gathered around him a set of loose law-defying con- 
tractors, men of means and vigor and associated these with 
him in the Credit Mobilier. Then the company moved to New 
York so as to get out of observation in Pennsylvania, and 
when one of Durant' s clerks by the name of Hoxie, a man 
without means, had been given by the Union Pacific Company a 
contract to build 246 miles of road, Hoxie transferred the 
same to Durant, and Durant to the Credit Mobilier. At this 
time the whole Union Pacific Company had paid up but $218,- 
000. The object of getting the Credit Mobilier charter was to 
protect themselves individually as partners for debts. As the 
Credit Mobilier, they turned around and bought the $218,000 
worth of stock aforesaid. The Union Pacific stock was then 
watered one thousand per cent., and thus the Credit Mobilier 
ate up the Union Pacific Company. The Hoxie contract at 
$50,000 per mile was now fulfilled in a cheap way, at a cost of 
$27,500 per mile, including equipment. About 350 miles of 
road were built in this way, of which 58 miles alone netted the 
Crexlit Mobilier more than a million and a third dollars " with- 
out any consideration whatever." August 16, 1867, the Oakes 
Ames contract was made for 66.7 miles, at from $42,000 to 
000 a mile, the Government meantime paying $96,000, in 



all about $48,000,000. The Credit Mobilier now handed over 
to Ames the absolute disposition of the Union Pacific railroad. 
Ames associated with himself an ex-Congressman from Mass- 
achusetts named John B. Alley, and Messrs. Bushnell, Dillon, 
M'Comb, Durant and Bates, the core of the Credit Mobilier. 
The chief Engineer, Granville M. Dodge, was bribed with- one 
hundred shares of Credit Mobilier stock, placed in the name of 
his wife. The profit under this contract was nearly $30,000,- 
000, in stock, cash, bonds, &c. In the same way the Davis con- 
tract was made, on the same terms as the Ames contract, for 
125 miles. The committee of investigation, headed by Hon. 
Jeremiah M. Wilson, reported on the above contract as follows: 

Your committee present the following summary of cost of this road to 
the railroad company and to the contractors, as appears hy the books : 

Cost to railroad company. 

Hoxie contract, $12,974,416.24 

Ames contract, - 57,140,102.94 

Davis contract, 23,431,768.10 

Total, - - - - 93,546,287.28 

Cost to contractors. 

Hoxie contract, $7,806,183.33 

Ames contract, - 27,285,141.99 

Davis contract, 15,629,633.62 


To this should be added amount paid Credit Mobilier on 

account of fifty-eight miles, ----- 1,104,000.00 

Total profit on construction - - - - 43,925,328.34 

It was while Oakes Ames was in the enjoyment of these 
contracts, that he was a member of Congress, and to smootli 
his path there, he gave stock in the Credit Mobilier Company 
in small sums to a large number of members, and outside 
people. His method was to hold the stock in their names, 
privately, but himself trustee, and known as such within the 
Mobilier Company. It was this very stock which led to a law- 


suit in the courts of Pennsylvania, by Henry S. M'Comb. 
Ames and his clique had fallen out with Durant, and his 
clique and the latter were discontented to see so much plunder 
falling to their opponents. M'Comb affected to believe that 
Ames had never paid the Credit Mobilier in question to 
Congressmen, or to put the proceeds in, his own pocket. He 
therefore laid damages at a very considerable amount, and 
found it necessary to sustain his case, that he should put in 
the Transcript some private letters which Ames had written to 
him. These letters involved the reputation of Congressmen. 

It appears that Ames, being of a dull unsensitive nature? 
paid little heed to the consequences of such publications, and 
his coterie, of, which the head was John B. Alley, supported 
him. An attempt was made, however, to get the originals out 
of M'Comb's hands, and make way with them. It appears 
that with rare delicacy M'Comb had merely put in copies and 
omitted altogether the memorandum of names of Congressmen. 

Here is the letter of Ames' counsel : 

M'Comb vs. C. Mobilier. 

Philadelphia, May 21, 1872. 

Dear Sir : On Thursday, the 23d, you have appointed to close the 
cross-examination of Mr. M'Comb, and to proceed with your evidence. 

Allow me to remind you of promises made by your client at the prior 
meetings, many months since, to furnish or produce the papers or doc- 
uments from copies of which he spoke, or referred to, or memoranda 
taken from them. Some at least were to be sent me next day ; none have 
been sent. He stated the other day that they had been withheld for a pur- 
pose. I must ask that you will require him to produce at the meeting on 
Thursday, if you desire me to cross-examine, the following : 

Letters from Oakes Ames in reference to the distribution of 345 shares 
as gifts to members of Congress : 

His books showing the original entries and dividends, or sums, stated to 
have been received as dividends — April, 1866; July, 1866; September, 
1866; December, 1866; and January, 1868. 

I would also like to have a copy of Mr. Ames' letter, April 13, 1867, 
(exhibit No. 2, A. W. N.) 

Very truly 

(Signed) R. C. McMurtrie. 

To Jas. E. Gowen, Esq. 


But M'Comb made McMurtrie take copies in his presence, 
and copy one letter at a time. The manner of McMurtrie when 
he saw such letters did exist, was that oi a man deceived by 
his own clients. 

Ames said to M'Comb, when asked it he did not value the 
reputation of his friends : 

" I don't care whether you put the letters in as evidence or" 1 
not. Everybody knows that Congressmen are bribed." 

After these letters became evidence, it was inevitable that 
they should appear in print. They did appear in some myste- 
rious way and made great scandal. After a long and most 
awkward silence, suspicious denials of their validity appeared 
from Ames and other parties. Ames argued that he had never 
sold or presented a share of stock to any member of Congress, 
— a piece of unblushing falsehood, as he has himself shown 
under oath. The denials of the others were made under a 
mistaken idea that the thing would blow over after the political 
campaign, and that meantime it would pass as mere vitupera- 
tion of the canvass. The names of Grant and Wilson, it was 
thought, would prove all-protecting ; 

Ulysses ! name that charms our fears, 
. That bids our sorrows cease ; 
'Tis music in the sinner's ears, 
'Tis life, and health, and peace ! 

After the election was done and Congress met, the word Mo- 
hilier was raised again, and the quickened consciences of some 
of the members showed in their troubled talk, and walk, and 
countenances. A Democrat was now r known to be in the case, 
and the Poland Investigating Committee met with closed doors. 
The news leaked through the cracks and keyholes. A savage 
speech made by James Brooks against M'Comb on the floor 
contemporaneously with a screed of evidence from John B. 
Alley under oath in the darkened Committee-room, only whetted . 
the public interest. A cry arose for " Open doors ! Less white ■ 
wash and more fumigation !" 

Then the sick men who groped their way about the Capital 


City would have been the pitied of men and angels but for that 
speech ot , Brooks' against the Government witness, which had 
closed the gates of mercy. The fatal truth, half told, came 
forth at last from the lips of Oakes Ames. That shovel-iron 
statue spoke like the sire of Fredolin, cursing his posterity. 

It may be asked why James Brooks was put forward by the 
Credit Mobilier people to make a speech against McComb. The 
fact was that Brooks, under the guise ot an aristocratic and 
strictly honorable member Of the opposition, had been robbing 
the Union Pacific Company all the while. He had secured 
from Andrew Johnson as a Democrat the appointment of Gov- 
ernment Director of the Union Pacific railroad and in that 
position was not allowed to be a stockholder, or interested in 
any way in the corporation. But with a vicious and dishonest 
nature he used his power all the more to extort from the con- 
federates stock in both the Union Pacific and Credit Mobilier 
Companies, and the very bonds of the United States which he 
was appointed to protect. Public guilt was never less undoubt- 
edly shown in any government. With his honors, riches, and 
age all to protect, it may be imagined that Brooks was more 
apprehensive than any living man of the consequences of an 
investigation. He was so nervous about the matter that he 
betook himself to the old newspaper mode of silencing an 
enemy by ruining his character. This he attempted to do be- 
fore Congress came together by concerted attacks upon M'- 
Comb, comparing him to Jim Fisk and Judge Barnard. When 
the Investigating Committee met with closed doors the guilty 
man heard almost immediately that his villainy had been put 
in evidence. He could not stand and wait ; for he knew that 
now his only escape was in loud and brawling defiance. He 
claimed, therefore, the privilege of a personal explanation, and 
delivered a personal attack upon M'Comb too ingenious to be 
honest and too cowardly not to provoke response. M' Comb's 
friends at once demanded the opening of the doors in equity to 
a witness so grossly, and as they claimed so unjustly, maligned 
by a member pleading his privileges. There was an agonizing 


time in Congress when the proposition was made to open the 
doors and men of both parties struggled hard to keep them 
close. But a paralysis had fallen upon the body. They saw 
the full galleries and knew that all the country was looking in, 
and although the Committee itself protested that a secret ex- 
amination would be the best, it was ordained that the public 
should know all about the matter. 

Induced to believe that Mr. Oakes Ames would shield him- 
self and them, several of the members sent him word or inti- 
mated in person that they wished him to exonerate them as far 
as possible. For some days he seemed to desire to do so, but 
being an old man, of a bluff, ingenuous nature, he finally grew 
ashamed of duplicity and enraged at the evident disposition to 
make him a principal and a perjurer besides. He and Mr. 
Alley therefore changed face upon their dupes and friends 
and corrected their statements. Mr. Colfax, Vice-President 
of the United States, and Mr. Patterson, U. S. Senator from 
New Hampshire, were ruined in the sequel after an agonizing 
effort to perplex or compound Mr. Ames. Mr. Kelley, Mr. 
Schofield, Mr. Garfield, Mr. Allison, Mr. James Wilson, com- 
monly called "The Singed Cat " of Iowa, and one or two 
others were scathed a good deal by the evidence. The Com- 
mittee reported in favor of the expulsion of Brooks and Ames 
from the House, and the Senate followed up the report by enter- 
taining another investigation, whereby Senator Patterson was 
named for expulsion. These proceedings did not satisfy the 
public and an effort was made in the House to censure Messrs. 
Kelley, Garfield, Samuel Hooper, and even Speaker Blaine. 
Against the latter, Mr. Job Stevenson of Ohio hurled a bitter 
piece of invective, and Mr. Speer of Pennsylvania debated the 
complicity of two of the others. The whole subject was dis- 
posed of by censuring Ames and Brooks, both of whom died 
of the shock and other ills in little above two months. Mr. 
Patterson left^the Senate by the expiration of his term, seeking 
in vain afterward to have his transaction and character vindi- 
cated. Mr. Colfax went out of office morally ruined and men- 


tally wrecked. He had maintained a semblance of purity and 
frankness for so many years of general consideration that the 
knowledge of his corruptibility and his painful exhibition of 
falsehood under oath gave the country a blow. 

Some scenes in this investigation may be sketched rapidly 
just as they were taken in my note book at the time. 

The Committee-room where the half-dozen gentlemen who 
had been appointed to seek out the why and wherefore of the 
railroad bribery met for one hour or more every forenoon 'is at 
the foot of a long flight of dark stairs which lead from the Ro- 
tunda to the floor usually called the crypt, or cellar. At the 
foot of these stairs, a lighted corridor, whose cheerful appear- 
ance does not deprive it of a certain dungeon-like look, — pro- 
bably the effect of the consciousness of the heavy weight sup- 
ported above, and of the broad and solid walls, and piers, and 
window-sills in view, — leads to the Committee-room. 

Within the Committee-room the atmosphere and air imme- 
diately change for the better. A good grate-fire burns under 
a symmetrical, old-fashioned mantel of white marble, above 
which is a mirror of the largest proportions. Opposite the 
mirror is a book-case filled with law-calf-bindings ;' and down 
the floor, lengthwise between the fire and books, runs a baize 
table surrounded with arm-chairs. Nearest the door half-a- 
dozen newspaper-writers are seated around the end of this 

At the other end is the Chairman of the investigation, 
Judge Luke Poland, of Vermont. Merrick and Niblack, the 
two Democrats, sit to the left hand of Judge Poland, and on 
his right is Mr. McCrary, of Iowa. These seem to be the 
chief members of the Committee who are paying any attention 
to the proceedings. McCrary, Merrick, and Poland do all the 

Next to Niblack sits Henry S. M'Comb, and sometimes 
Judge Black and Lawyer Smithers occupy a place at his side. 
Mr. Smith, the official reporter, sits on the opposite side. Next 


to McCrary, facing M'Comb, are the two inseparable compan- 
ions, Ames and Alley, the Massachusetts Dromios. 

Around the chamber are half-a-dozen or dozen reporters and 
idlers. The Court proceeds in the most informal, but in the 
quietest way, and progress is made slowly. 

Judge Poland looks like a French Marquis. He is a tall, 
aristocratic-looking old gentleman, with full white hair, and 
full white side- whiskers combed forward. His nose is straight 
and long, and his profile handsome ; but, when he turns his 
full face, he seems to carry a mouth full of tobacco, and speaks 
with a sense of apprehension that some of it may spill. His 
method is courteous nearly to a fault, and slow to irritation ; 
but, as there is nothing of the demagogue or sensationalist 
about him and as he is what he appears to be, a kind and gen- 
erous old gentleman, all look with confidence to his return of 
the facts in their spirit. Alley began by talking down every- 
body, and was interrupted at no time, except when he was 
slavering Ames all over with praises, when Niblack said : 

" Mr. Alley, how many monuments do you want to have 
erected to Mr. Ames ?" 

Persons coming into the Committee-room for the first time 
are wont to say : 

" Who is that fine-looking man across the table ? " 

" Henry S. M'Comb ! " 

" That M'Comb ! Why, I expected, from what Brooks said, 
to see a monster." 

Yes, a man in the o'er ripe prime of life, alert, rosy, cor- 
dial, perceptive, and so unusually handsome as to imply a social 
importance chiefly, whereas there is an engine at work all the 
while within the man, and half-a-dozen different fly-wheels. Not 
a fully educated man, he compensates for it by native graces, 
and the acquaintance since boyhood with people of culture at 
home, and men of power throughout the country. In the social, 
intellectual, and material scale, M'Comb is the superior of any- 
body who has lost time seeking to impeach him. 

Oakes Ames is a very large man, of the type of a Yorkshire 


manufacturer, gnarled, spectacled, with great, bent shoulders, 
a slow walk, and prodigious limbs and feet. He will probably 
weigh 280 pounds, and he looks to be 6 feet 2 or 3. He has 
strong, coarse, brownish hair, and bristly beard around the 
long, sternwheeled shaft of his jaws. His forehead is low, and 
the nose seems to be half ot the face. The eyes behind the 
spectacles are small, and of a slow, searching look. Ames 
came to Congress with the soul of a commercial traveler, and, 
if expelled from it, would feel no particular inconvenience or 
loss of self-esteem. The shovel which his trip-hammer beats 
into shape is scarcely harder, and, as the man grows old, he 
rusts, but is too rugged to decay. A monument to Oakes 
Ames ought to be made of scrap-iron, and John B. Alley would 
be the solitary mourner over it, and, unless watched, he would 
peddle away the monument piece-meal. 

Ames made small bones of telling the most of what he re- 
membered about Congressmen, and, but for Alley, he would 
probably have remembered considerably more. 

Alley sat by his side all the while, lifting or lowering his 
brows suggestively, as Ames helplessly looked around at him 
for counsel. He was thirteen years the junior of Ames, who 
was nearly 70 years of age. 

Alley was a shoemaker in boyhood, and he is now the pro- 
prietor of the best house in Lynn. He is proud of his money, 
and holds to it with the desperation of a cannibal husbanding 
his last corpse. He is a short, demure, white-headed man, and 
has an endless tongue, which testifies all manner of hearsay, 
and covers time with space, to the exclusion of information, 
and to the prejudice of more modest and less doubtful evidence. 

Alley has enormously profited by Ames's contracts, and he 
appears in Ames's letters as the incorrigible opponent to every 
dividend to outsiders. He was the chief adviser to Ames's 
course toward M' Comb, and he is really on the spot at present 
as the principal and counsel of Ames. He may say, with Sir 
Giles Overreach i 


" In being out of office, I am out of danger ; 

Where, if I were a Justice, besides the trouble, 

I might, or out of wilfulness or error, 

Run myself finely into a premunire, 

And so become a prey to the informer. 

No, I'll have none of it ; 'tis enough I keep 

Greedy at my devotion. So he serve 

My purposes, let him hang, or damn, I care not ! 

Friendship is but a word, I must have all men 

Sellers, and I the only purchaser ! " 

We have no remark to make upon Senator Patterson — who 
is a good sort of commonplace man — described by Senator Nye 
as " a little college professor," except to remark that New- 
Hampshire is the jobbingest State in the Union, and this city 
is overrun with its spawn. They are claim agents, " counsel- 
lors," strikers, land rats, and water rats. 

At the latter part of the week the meek-faced Boyer of the 
town of Norristown, where Hartranft hails from, might have 
been seen moving around the hotels. He and Brooks belonged 
together to the Union Pacific Railroad Committee, and both 
are implicated, Boyer as trustee, and mayhap thereby hangs a 

Does the Democratic party wonder why it possesses no con- 
fidence ? Here are a Democratic editor at the metropolis and 
a Pennsylvania Democrat, both Congressmen, tied up in na- 
tional securities, and of course the intimidated creatures of the 
Administration side. During the last campaign, when the 
Greeley journals were pushing the Credit Mobilier scandal, 
Brooks was running around the Fifth Avenue Hotel nightly 
saying " M'Comb's character is bad onthe street! " He kept 
up this senile speech, and alleged that the Credit Mobilier talk 
was not righteous ammunition for the canvass, thereby doing 
his part to cripple the candidates. Greeley is in his grave, 
but Brooks lives. What a commentary is this on the value of 

A fat man, square everywhere below the head and outside 
of the heart, and named Bushnell, came before the committee 



last week to say that his children's children would honor him 
for building the Pacific railway. The correspondent had no 
difficulty in putting this person down as one of the " stalls " 
for Ames and Alley. 

Unless we are incorrectly posted, this very person gave his 
check for two hundred shares Credit Mobilier ($20,000) on a 
bank where he had no funds, and he palavered the check along, 
saying he would attend to it, arrange it, &c, until he had 
actually collected all the stock, bonds, and cash dividends for 
two years, just as if the check had been paid. The reason was 
that he was necessary to Ames, Alley, and Dillon. Moreover, 
as gossip in the committee-room says, $112,000 worth of Gov- 
ernment certificates and $400,000 worth of first mortgage 
bonds, (partly charged to one Shaw, according to the notable 
book-keeping of the Credit Mobilier,) which were traced into 
Bushnell's hands years ago, are yet unaccounted for by him. 
This man, nevertheless, says that Congressmen ought to have 
moral pluck and admit their Credit Mobilier, and he says that 
$50,000 worth of his stock in the Credit Mobilier was recently 
thrown out of bank on account of the present investigation. 
Which bank ? The same he gave the $20,000 chetek upon ? 

Bushnell struck us as a blower. When we heard him talk 
we wondered whether his monument — they all expect monu- 
ments and " children's children" — had not better be constructed 
on the pneumatic principle, of wind. 

For the half dozen or eight members of Congress who, in a 
moment of weakness or temptation, accepted this Credit Mobi- 
lier stock from Oakes Ames, there would be no severe expres- 
sions from anybody except for their precipitate denials. Mr. 
Schofield merits no sympathy on the ground of meekness ; for 
during the campaign he was stigmatizing this and other charges 
as a " Greeley lie." Mr. Colfax's situation is most pitiable of 
all ; for he denied outright that he had any stock, denounced 
correspondents for merely intimating as much, and yet, by the 
testimony, seems to have done the sinister service for the 


Credit Mobilier of " blocking the game " of an investigation 
and inciting even the pernicious Ames to exclaim : 

" In Colfax's case don't you think the investment paid ?" 

And then that idiotic explanation read before the committee 
by Mr. Colfax ; that assumption of childishness ; that touch of 
the immaculate conception when he still professed not to know 
what the Mobilier was ; that shallow beseeching of somebody 
to cross-examine him ! The man disarms us by his littleness. 
Go, Schuyler Colfax and*let us forget thee ! This stage of pub- 
lic life is too large for such puppetry as thine. 

Mr. Dawes has a robust explanation, which acquits him of 
anything mean except his evasive denial. Mr. Blaine was too 
sagacious to sell out his prospects so cheaply. Of two or three 
other members, Ames took advantage and turned their poverty 
into a public temptation nearly disastrous to their reputations. 
Mr. Kelley is one of these men ; but in view of Ames' testimony 
that he is still the latter's debtor for $1,000, how unnecessary 
was this explanation of Mr. Kelley : 

" I have never' owned a share of stock in the Credit Mobilier 
of America, nor has any member of my family, either directly 
or by the intervention of a trustee or agent." 

Well did Hamlet say that playing on such stops was easy as 

In General Garfield's case Mr. Ames seems to have taken 
advantage of a man in distress, and to have secured a loan by 
an entangling investment. As soon as Garfield discovered the 
cheat he returned the money. 

Mr. James Wilson of Iowa, who has been doing a good deal 
of something in this city since he left Congress, and who was 
so touchy as to his honor that he made a great speech once in 
the House, saying that he had never received any imputation 
but one, and who proved' his peace of mind by persecuting 
newspaper writers, this friend of Billy McGarrahan, has been 
the subject of inquiry in this case, and we suggest that lie now 
accept one of those three Cabinet positions which the President 
offered him. He would seem to need some such extension of 
confidence ! 


Mr. Allison has made himself mysterious by a denial. When 
Peter denies his Credit Mobilier the cock crows thrice for divi- 

Henry Wilson has been the victim of a wedding gift. At 
the fine old gentleman's silver wedding, the anniversary of 
honorable domestic years, the Ames gang strode in and put 
Credit Mobilier stock on the plate. To defame a well-spent life 
by such a testimonial proves the brutality of this crowd.. Why 
did they not put their hands in their pockets and subscribe any 
honest currency which they might have possessed ? As it was, 
they might as well have given another man's gold watch to the 
old couple. 

The youthful Painter, who has been hanging on the verge 
of the newspaper profession for ten years or more, affecting to 
know how to spell, and proving that he affects it only to job, 
appears in this case as a striker for Credit Mobilier stock. He 
not only got twenty shares, but, says Ames, " was in a high 
dudgeon that he did not get fifty." He had failed to strike 
Durant for this amount, and appears to have got it out of Ames 
only by proffering his malignant services to defame M'Comb. 

The three persons who appear to constitute the central direct- 
ory of the mortal remains of the Credit Mobilier are Messrs. 
Ames, Alley, and Brooks. Mr. Brooks' speech in Congress 
against M'Comb has reacted upon himself. We leave him to 
deal with the evidence which has developed since his speech, 
and if it be brought home to him that, as a Government 
director, he took interest in the Union Pacific railroad, and as 
a Democrat demanded stock to " take care of the Democratic 
side," he should receive that generosity he meted out to 
M'Comb. On cowardice and cruelty sympathy is thrown 
away ! 

Mr. Alley has labored very hard here to prove himself a par- 
simonious toady and an example of grasping contemptibility. 
To look at him and hear him talk is a surfeit. He has volun- 
tarily put himself beside the principal in this matter, and his 
screed upon M'Comb was that of a vulgar slanderer whose ig- 
norance could not estimate the effect of a coarse action. 


As to Mr. Bingham, who met the charge with that old-fash- 
ioned shaking of the head and jabber about a licentious press, 
reading meanwhile a piece of blunt acknowledgment, he fell 
over his own ingenuity directly ; for he wished it made a part 
of the record that he had introduced a bill in Congress obligat- 
ing the Company to protect the national interest. A corre- 
spondent promptly forwarded a question as to whether the said 
security for the Government's interest was not appended to 
Bingham's bill in the Senate and returned to the House in the 
form of an amendment ? Mr. B. slunk a perceptible slink and 
confessed the soft impeachment. 

Mr. Bingham then qualified his rhetorical allusion to "a 
licentious press," by saying that he meant by it only the editor, 
who attributed to him $20,000 worth of profits in the Credit 

Let us see. 

The dividends in Credit Mobilier were eleven hundred per 
cent, prior to 1870. If Mr. Bingham got but $6,500 he ought 
to bring Oakes Ames to account, for the man Bushnell says 
that any member who had the stock promised to him ought to 
demand it. 

Go, John A. Bingham, and take BushnelPs principals at their 
word. They sold you for a Chinaman and gave you but one- 
third of what you were entitled to. 

We looked at Bingham giving his testimony before that meek 
and courteous chairman, old Judge Poland, and recalled the 
time when Bingham himself, conducting the McGarrahan in- 
vestigation, tyrannized over witnesses in the interest of the 
Micks and O'Shilleys. Poland, mavourneen ! Thou art nothing 
less than a gentleman of the old school. 

In our judgment Messrs. Dawes and Garfield came off vic- 
toriously in this matter. The miserable Ames, who seems to 
have been a public money lender, took advantage of Garfield 
when in need of money to tie him up hi Credit Mobilier. Of 
Mr. Dawes he took advantage when the latter wanted to buy 
some Cedar Rapids stock. 


Ames richly deserved expulsion, and without it all this investi- 
gation would have been for naught. The following railway jobs he 
conducted successfully through Congress, and some of them 
were accompanied with better endowments than the Union Pa- 
cific : namely, Sioux City, Iowa Falls and Sioux City, Cedar 
Rapids, Union Pacific, and finally that magnificently endowed 
Eastern Division of The Union Pacific. He came to Congress 
to job in railways, and gave all his time to it. 

Mr. Glenni W. Scofield's statement has a measley and hardly 
convalescent look. When a man says he " does not remember 
receiving any dividends " and does not remember what his atti- 
tude was on legislation affecting the Union Pacific railroad, we 
regard him in the words of the same poet we have quoted, as 
follows : 

" With sadness that is calm, not gloom, 
We learn to think upon him ; 
With meekness that is gratefulness » 

On Oakes Ames who hath won him. 
Who suffered once those dividends 
To public shame to blind him, 
* But gently led the blind along 

Where Jerry Black could find him." 

The ugly fact has come out, that Jacob Harlan received 
$10,000 from Thomas C. Durant, that chief of sinners and 
gallants, to elect himself Senator from Iowa. And mark ! 
Harlan had been the Secretary of the Interior during the time 
that the Union Pacific wanted work done in that department. 
If we are to believe the gossip on the street, Mr. Harlan got 
from this interest not merely $10,000, but $30,000. 

But where is the Rev. Dr. Newman, who wrote the circular 
letter and had it lithographed with the caption : "Dear Sir and 
Brother," and asked the suffrages and lobby devotion of all 
the Methodist preachers in Iowa for Harlan ? Did he get none 
of the Credit Mobilier, or was his portion passed through his 
countenance and melted to brass to swell the cadence of the 
chimes ? If we were a Senator we would hoist the reverend 
lobbyists, at any rate, out of our wing. 


James Brooks would have received plenty of sympathy had 
he respected another man's character. When a man plays it 
fine he must have some of the naivete of an artist to give 
dignity to his misses. Mr. Brooks has changed his flag-ship 
•two or three times during the action. Once we heard him 
appeal to the Deity in a rather blasphemous way to say that 
he had never had a share's worth of interest in the Credit 
Mobilier or Union Pacific. 

On the whole we sum him up to be a parvenu, who has 
made most of his money in this sort of way, and has dissipated 
his nerve. His political positions have generally been those 
of a pompous dough-face, extenuating the rebellion, while 
filching from the Union. He subscribed $10,000 to the Union 
Pacific Railroad, and has drawn $300,000 from it, including 
his commission as the salesman of the Pacific Railroad 
telegraph line. He is reputed to exist now as a director in 
the Union Pacific by the use of the shares he received as 
dividends on Credit Mobilier. He opposed the Union Pacific 
road until he was " let in," when he became its oilman, and 
greased the Democratic side, or professed to do so. 

It was an awful picture to see this sickly man examining 
Tom Durant as to the high patriotic necessity of the Union 
Pacific Railroad, while feebly requesting old Judge Poland to 
lug in Jeems, Lazarus, and Fagin to prove M'Comb not a 
credible witness. Death and reputation seemed at work in 
our friend, and Durant so sympathized with him that he said : 

" By Jupiter ! I must let up on that man. I don't want any 
male corpses laid at my door-post untimely." 

Durant did let up, covered Brooks' tracks as. much as he 
dared, and proved himself the magnanimous materialistic 
Bohemian that he is. 

No two confessions were alike. Henry Wilson sentimental- 
ized his error over by expressing his notion of the vileness of 
imputations. He called his Maker and himself face to face in 
his closet, and attempted to butter Oakes Ames over with 
humble praise. 


Henry Wilson, beware of the fate -of Schuyler Colfax ! 
Hypocrisy in the Vice-President is a garment of gauze. The 
oft iteration of. poverty as an excuse for simony becomes at 
last disgusting. This country calls on no man to be an ass 
in order to serve it with spirit ; and to perceive and apprehend 
a case of bribery bottomed on public robbery is the duty of a 

When a man has been ten or fifteen years in continuous 
public life, and still affects not to know what the Credit 
Mobilier is, we set him down as a fraud. If he does not know, 
away with him for stupidity ; and if he does not know any 
more, while mysteriously receiving the dividends, we classify 
him with Cowper, of whom the poet said : 

" That while in darkness he remained, 

Unconscious of the guiding, 
All things provided came without 

The sweet sense of providing." 

Poverty is not a plea in rebuttal of a direct charge of pecula- 
tion, for it may be the concomitant of profligacy. To talk 
about the deceased members of one's family in a whining way, 
and offer to sell out one's goods for thirty-five hundred dollars, 
seem to us to be overrating the credulities of men. Mr. Wilson 
bought that Credit Mobilier stock in January, 1868, and parted 
with it at the close of the same year. Now, between these 
dates above, four hundred per cent, dividends were declared. 

Mr. Wilson says that if ten thousand dollars were due him, 
he would not touch a cent, of it. Where does this leave 
Messrs. Bingham and Hooper ? Ah ! Messieurs in Congress, 
"thus conscience doth make cowards of us all." 

We heard Wm. D. Kelley's long-winded harangue, delivered 
with all the resonance of an unending tune in a negro meeting- 
house, with compassion not wholly unmixed with wonder. 

A person who pretends to be the great statesman of the 
period, and to know whys and wherefores, from the Sutro 
tunnel up to sublimated potash, and to be still so stupid that 
he did not know the difference between a loan and a purchase, 


is a candidate for the asylum. Where is the shame of these 
people, to sit in the presence of such satirists upon human 
nature as Ames and Alley, and tell these forgetful reminis- 
cences ? Mr. Kelley makes a great point that two thousand 
dollars could not buy him. We do not know about that ! The 
picture he drew to the point of satiety about his renewals, 
protests, mortgages, etc., did not x-educe the timeliness of any 
two thousand dollars. He certainly made himself appear 
a sufficiently impecunious victim of Oakes Ames. Said Mr. 
Kelley : " For largely more than a quarter of a century I have 
advocated the Pacific Railway." 

Let us see. 

We acquired California in 1847, twenty-five years ago. Did 
Mr. Kelley start the project of a Pacific road before we had 
any population or right on that coast ? These touches of 
rhetorical egotism are entirely unmeaning. Mr. Kelley is 
neither a saint or a hero, and we prefer to let him slip with 
the apology that " Oakes Ames did tempt me and I did eat." 

While Congressmen wriggle and writhe and say that it was 
noble-minded to own Credit Mobilier stock, read the letters of 
Oakes Ames ! He expresses his opinion of these men, and 
shows why he wanted them in the contracting company. With 
the stock in their pockets they were his. And here is a sin- 
gular passage in one of his letters : 

" Iii view of Washburne's move to investigate us I go for 
one bond dividend in full. I understand that the opposition 
to it comes from John B. Alley." 

Now, why did Alley object ? Because he had parted with 
his stock ! 

He had sold 250 shares Credit Mobilier at $200 per share to 
Peter Butler of Boston, December 5, 1867. He had expected 
to pick up more stock for less money, but he found in New 
York that nobody would sell. He therefore availed himself of 
his position as trustee to resist a dividend. Durant, knowing 
Alley's rapacious motive, proposed to buy him up, which he 
did, as the following receipt will show. Alley thus got 250 


shares of stock, and of course he changed tactics and received 
a dividend : 


T. C. Dnrant having sold to me a call to take from him within ten days 
from this date two hundred and fifty shares of stock of the Credit Mobilier 
of America, in case I do not avail myself of that privilege I promise to 
return to said Durant the memorandum conveying said privilege on his 
return to me of this paper. 

(Signed), John B. Alley. 

New York, December 12, 186 7. 


Our opinion of the committee conducting this investigation 
is enhanced by its behavior during tjie last week. Incisive 
questions were proposed by McCrary and Niblack. Judge 
Poland, whose error is slowness, and who examined these 
speculators as if they were of the blood royal, also addressed 
some pertinent inquiries to the witnesses. The question asked 
by McCrary of Kelley as to the tone of the letters of Oakes 
Ames, was of the sort which should have been put among 
these proceedings more frequently. Mr. Merrick has preserved 
watchful and discriminating behavior during all this investi- 
gation, which probably accounted for Bingham's blustering 
way of reading his evidence to Merrick, as if the latter had 
intentions on him. ' ♦ 

There have been too many statements made in these pro- 
ceedings — written statements, not in the form of legitimate 
testimony, and artfully contrived to evade admissions. On 
some of these there has been no cross-examination whatever. 
Colonel M'Comb stood up and answered orally, ,and took no 
advantage of the lax rules of evidence accorded here. A 
flagrant case of libel, in the form of testimony, not wholly 
unlike forswearing — to call it by no graver name — was that of 
John B. Alley. His evidence was prepared by B. C. McMurtrie 
of Philadelphia, a lawyer always resident in the Quaker City. 
Mr. Alley said that he had' prepared his testimony, and sub- 
mitted it to a distinguished New England jurist, who had told 

J. b. alley's perjury. 451 

him that ' to omit a word or a line of it would be to his 

" Who is that New England jurist ? " was asked by Judge 

After a pause Alley replied : 

" Mr. McMurtrie." 

As Alley was under oath when he said that his adviser was 
a distinguished New England jurist, and as he named McMur- 
trie, never a New Englander, where is Alley's veracity ? And 
four-fifths of the said testimony was mere slander, such as 
such a creature could pour out on M'Comb. 

p. s. — Saturday's testimony. 

" Very eloquently said, Mr. Wilson ! " remarked Judge 
Niblack satirically, after James Wilson had quoted several 
thousand words laudatory of the Union Pacific road, and its 
construction " amidst bands of hostile Indians." 

Everybody who has passed over the Union Pacific road 
knows that no Indians are to be seen, and that the construction 
is over gently rising slopes and acclivities nearly as adaptable 
to track-laying as the level prairies. The only startling thing 
about the road is its crookedness, after reaching the three hun- 
dreth mile, where Durant ceased building and Ames began. 
The new crowd, commencing their career with consistent rapa- 
city, made the road serpentine, and often bent it back on itself 
at level and fertile places to get more land and more 

Wilson's testimony, as we understood it, made him claim a 
great deal of credit for saving the Government half the charge 
of mail transportation over the Union Pacific railroad, whereas 
the original bill saved the Government the whole charge. * 

Mr. Wilson said that he had made $3,000 on his stock, the 
full salary of a member of Congress for about eight months, or 
all the working time of Congress for a whole year. Pie did not 
remember any dividends, and the . manner of the sale looked 
very awkward. Mr. Wilson is now in this city, seeking to 


locate railroad lands about one hundred miles off the line of 
the Burlington and Missouri railroad. Judge Poland perti- 
nently asked whether Wilson sold his stock to qualify himself 
to be a Government director of the Union Pacific Railroad, 
which he is at present. This evidence was full of solicitude 
for the Government twenty years hence. The quantity of 
singe about this cat amounts to a sheepskin. 

Boyer, the young chap from Norristown, was in Congress 
just four years, between 1865-69, and got 100 shares of Credit 
Mobilier (25 being for Mrs. Boyer). He was on the Pacific 
Railroad committee with Brooks, and at 1100 per cent, increase, 
his profits were $110,000. The New York Nation says the 
profits were 1500 per cent., making, if true, $150,000 profit. 
Pretty good for the young fellow by the name of Boyer ! The 
"Norristowners will have a little family legend on this sudden 
wealth for many generations. This was mere plunder from 
the Treasury and the public lands of the United States. Yet 
" he had the right to do it." 

Mr. Colfax came with counsel, and again and again sought 
to break the rampart of the old man's confession. . 

" You've got the stock, and you know it," said Ames, " So 
what's the use of getting around it ?" 

" How could I own it and not be aware of it ?" said Colfax, 
" Why didn't people tell me ?" 

" Why," said Ames, " nobody ever told me I owned my 
own hat !" 

The fact was that the Vice-President had taken a quantity 
of the Mobilier Stock, drawn the dividend, and put them in 
bank, so that the bank-book, the cheques paid by the Sergeant- 
at-Arms, and the testimony of Oakes Ames made a complete, 
serried, and simultaneous narrative. It was irrefutable. It 
broke down the dignity of his office. It was crushing. 

To a young man concealed on a committee-room sofa, enter 
Oakes and John B. Alley, diligently toadied by two newspaper- 

Ames grunts, and fills a whole leather sofa. Alley takes a 


chair, grunts, and stows away his coat-tails, to save them from 
wear and tear. 

Alley : " Oh, dear ! Ames, I knew that great heart of yours 
would get you into trouble. I knew that great heart of yours 
would be our ruin. I told you that your generosity was too 
abundant, and your impulses too noble. Didn't I tell you so ? 
I want these gentlemen to hear it said." 

Ames : " Oh, Alley ! I can't remember everything you 
remind me of. I believe you did say something of that descrip- 

Alley : " You hear him admit it, gentlemen. Ah ! Mr. 
Ames has a foolish, noble heart. He wants to be doing good, 
even when it is dangerous to do so. That scoundrel M'Comb 
now gloats in his distress. Mr. Ames is a persecuted hero, 
and, as I have often said before, deserves a monument as high 
as the shaft on Bunker Hill." 

Here enters an old whining Virginia Railroad man. 

Old Whiney : " Meister Ames, I called to see if you wasn't 
going to help me out with your subscription to the Catoctin & 
Occoquan Railroad." 

Ames (very gruff) : " No. Pretty time to ask me for a 
subscription. Go to M'Comb. He's got plenty of money. 
He is ruining me. I believe he's a friend of yours ?" 

Old Whiney : " No, Mr. Ames, I don't think highly of Mr. 
M'Comb. He refused to help me with my enterprise." 

Ames : " What's that ? M' Comb's a d — d scoundrel, is he ? 
Alley, remember that !" 

Alley : " Yes, Mr. Ames, I believed, by looking at Whiney's 
intelligent head, that such must be his opinion. He says that 
M'Comb is a scoundrel, gentlemen " (to the reporters). 

Ames : " Whiney, come around and See me to-night. May- 
be I can let you have ten thousand or so in your enterprise. 
But remember to remark to your friends that, in your opinion, 
M'Comb is a scoundrel." 

We need not prolong • these little sketches. After a very 
long examination, conducted with all frankness by both the 


Poland Committee and the Wilson Committee, the former 
reported Brooks and Ames for expulsion, but made no recom- 
mendation in the cases of the other members, whose state- 
ments ■ they declared to be painfully contradictory. A great 
debate ensued, lasting more than two days, and heard by 
enormous audiences in the galleries and on the floors. The 
corrupt interest triumphed, and Brooks and Ames were merely 
censured. An attempt was made to censure also Messrs. 
Hooper of Massachusetts, Kelley of Pennsylvania, Garfield of 
Ohio, Bingham of Ohio, Dawes, Butler, and others. However, 
Congress, satisfied that the people lacked the interest and 
indignation to make it any penalty, not only laid the whole 
matter on the table, but, as if to show that corruption was the 
organic law of the land and of the American Congressman, 
immediately turned about and increased the pay of a member 
nearly one-third, and made the provisions of the act apply to 
the Congress just expiring. This most scandalous action was 
worthy of a body of men which has become diseased and cor- 
rupt by the advantages of war, and has wholly lost its own self- 
respect and the confidence of the country. 



Talking with an old and veteran observer in lobby matters 
yesterday he described to me some of the celebrated females 
who have operated here during the last twenty years. 

One of these goes by the name of " Comanche," after a cel- 
ebrated iron-clad which was built on the Pacific coast during 
the war. A claim for relief was brought, of course, and the 
amount demanded was not far from $200,000. All the appli- 
ances of the lobby were duly brought to bear ; the conductor of 
the enterprise was a fine broth of an Irishman, and he agreed to 
pay the woman called " Comanche" a fair compensation to be 
based upon her influence. " Comanche " at once took rooms at 
the National Hotel, and, having conquered everything at that end 
of the city, came on to Willard's. She was large, voluptuous, 
and made herself particularly pleasing to the head of the 
Ways and Means, and the head of the Military Committees. 
It was not very plain that she possessed other than bodily 
endowments, and the presumption has not been contradicted 
that she had only one manner of accommodation which was 
pretty sure to make an obligation. After spending a full year 
at this apprenticeship, " Comanche" presented a bill to the 
master of ceremonies for $ 20,000, one-half to be paid to a 
gentleman in the lobby, for whom she had a fondness. The claim 
was paid in full to the shipbuilders, but poor " Comanche" got 
only $4,000, which' merely paid her hotel bill, so that sub- 
sistence and no more was the reward of all this accommoda- 
tion. " Comanche" raged and threatened, but the ship people 



merely said : " What are you gding to do about it ? "We have 
got the money, and you may write an account, if you want to, 
of the sort of work you did for us, but that would be to destroy 
your own character as a witness." 

" Comanche" is still alive, and a frequent visitor to Wash- 
ington, but she has grown large and portly, and is pretty well 
forgotten in the lobby. 

Another well remembered attempt to introduce female charms 
as an active influence in the National Legislature, was that of 
Colt, the fire-arms manufacturer, who wished to have his patents 
extended. Being a large, gross man, he thought that the 
coarsest expedients would be the most effective, and taking a 
house on C street, a few blocks from the Capitol, he maintained 
from time to time such prepossessing company, that the scan- 
dal was instantaneous and did much to defeat the relief re- 

A celebrated lobby character around Washington in 1871-2 
may be called Mrs. General Straitor. She is said to have been 
a handsome castaway in one of the Southern towns, who in- 
fatuated General Straitor when the Union army occupied the 
place. He was a drinking man whose remainder of days were 
not increased by this mesalliance. His widow, however, got the 
'benefit of her marriage certificate, and his well-known name, 
and his army companions brought her on to Washington where 
she was put forward to influence the Interior Department in 
the matter of Indian contracts. The celebrated Perry Fuller, 
and one of the Western Senators, paid Mrs. General Straitor's 
household bills, and provided her with a sideboard. She 
retired from the Capital City possessor of her own establish- 
ment in New York, and it is said that she is the prote'ge* of a 
retired politician. Mrs. Straitor was a darlt eyed lady, with a 
bright complexion, very elegant in figure and dress. 

No woman of her period was more notable in Washington, 
than Mrs. Lucy Cobb. She was remarkably handsome, and 
inclined to voluptuousness. Her eyes were dark, and her 
form just over the limits of delicacy. She was uneducated, 


and ot rather low origin, and began her public career by keep- 
ing a cigar shop on the avenue. In some manner she became 
a favorite at the White House amongst the Secretaries and 
doorkeepers, and, it is said, of the President himself. At this 
time, the procuring ol pardons for officials in the late rebel- 
lion was quite an avocation, and the rumor gained ground that 
Mrs. Cobb could get a pardon where anybody else would fail. 
She probably picked up a few hundred dollars in this precari- 
ous way, and more by less professional methods. Policemen, 
folders, pages, and Congressmen all knew her, and she would 
walk through the Capitol imannoyed by the stare of people, and 
was able to make her way into .almost any ol the committee 
rooms. Her late career has been comparatively indigent and 

Among my acquaintances is a young practising doctor of this 
city, and with him I frequently make the round of his patients. 
Last Summer, during the recess, he stopped for me one after- 
noon, and we drove over toward " the Island," the flat, swampy, 
unsocial part ol the town. 

" I have a bad case," he said " ~wn here in Murder Bay, 
(' Murder Bay' is the gulfy street of the street-walker) and I 
must stop a minute on the way there at the Department." 

At the Department the doctor sent his name up for a cer- 
tain clerk. The clerk came down — a shabby, sickly being, 
with a limp walk, an attenuated form, a haggard face. 

" How*s Eliza ? " said the doctor. 

" No better ! " 

" Did you buy the medicines according to my prescriptions ? " 


" Why not ? I told you they were oi vital importance. 
The girl will die ! " 

The sickly clerk threw up his head, as if it pained him to 
carry the distresses in it. 

" My God ! " he said, " I can do no more. My salary is 
anticipated for eight months. I paid sixty dollars for a hun- 
dred the last time. I have exhausted the last friend, and 


pawned my last and least possessions, my shirts, my boots. 
My very comb and brush I pledged last week for twenty-five 
cents. The girl will die any way. So will I ! Doctor, my 
God ! what can I do ? " 

The doctor drove away to a drug store and paid for the drugs 
himself, saying, " this is another privilege of a physician !" 
Then we drove to Murder Bay and the doctor said to me : 

" Come up here. Everybody knows the doctor's gig and 
will take you for a physician." 

We passed into a house of lost women. It was bright day. 
A few negligent, half-dressed females were lounging in the par- 
lors with a " lover" or two,' the privileged pensioners of the 
day. The mistress of the place, cold-faced as a fish, showed 
us up into a dismantled room, where on a bed, unmade appar- 
ently for weeks, in the odors of liquor, smoke, and dyspeptic 
exhalations, a young girl lay. 

The doctor threw up the sash and let in the sky and the 
wind. The girl turned over and said through her baked lips : 

" Have you seen Jim ?" 

" Yes ! he has sent these medicines." 

" Where did he get money ? He has pawned his comb and 
brush, and my wedding ring, that was to have been, went be- 
fore them, kept to the last by a crazy superstition. I heard 
him threaten to steal, for he's got chances, and they say every- 
body steals in the government." 

" Jim didn't steal anything," said the doctor. " I bought 
the medicines." 

" I won't take them," said the girl. " They will make me 
well. I shall get drunk again and come back on yo-u for more 
medicines. A little of this money would get me a dose that 
would cure me for good. Oh ! Doctor," cried the girl, " do 
buy me that medicine. I have prayed with Miss Betty (the 
housekeeper), I have offered the black woman all my hair, 
every lock of it, to get me a little." 

Her voice softened and became indistinct. I know that the 
word was — " poison." 


The doctor and the girl remonstrated with each other in sup- 
pressed tones. I could see the pleading, imploring eye of the 
girl, her hand upon the doctor's coat, wrestling with him 
for the gift of death. Merciful death ! How holy it would 
make this shamble! The girl was of. a good, 'round buxom 
figure, country-like in accent and expression, very young, 
not above sixteen, she afterward said. Her hair long, 
and combed from time to time with her fingers, was of a 
golden-flax color. The sin of despair and not the sin of folly 
was expressed in her eyes. Her oaths were crude and awk- 
ward, as if just learned. _ It was deep degradation all taken at 
a plunge. The doctor after awhile turned to me and said in 
his professional way, partly business, partly sweetness, as I 
had sometimes seen him mix honey and aloes, pill making.: 

" This is a hard case. I never had but one other like it. 
This girl was engaged to be married to the young fellow we 

saw at the Department. He was too poor to be married, 

but he sent her money to come and visit him. In a freak she 
came on ; both of them got out of funds here. She overstayed 
the period of her visit ; became the subject of scandal at home, 
in Ohio, received the denunciation of her parents, and her 
lover seduced her finally, under promise of marriage when he 
got a little ahead. I have no doubt he meant to marry her, 
but then he never got ahead, rather retrograded, got behind 
more and more, had . his salary hypothecated, and fell in debt 
so deep he couldn't feel bottom. They were turned out of their 
boarding-house, floundered about awhile, and became so poor 
they could not " move." Quarrels ensued and hot words. 
Eliza here pitched into Jim for betraying her. He accused 
her of running' him into debt and being the author of his mis- 
ery. She fell upon the town. He raved, but couldn't help 
himself. Rum came in as a natural colleague. And this is 
one picture of " Life in the Departments." The next will be 
" Jim in jail or hanging himself." 

" No !." said the girl, " there'll be another picture before 
that. Oh ! Can't a good soul in pity give me a bottle of lauda- 
num. I'm of no use to nobody. I am a misery to myself. 


Anybody will give me liquor. Nobody will give rue what I 
want — to die this night !" 

Blasphemy came in to curse despair. ■ The delirium followed. 
I went away with the sound of cursing and love making in my 
ear, the gig still standing at the door. 

When I saw the doctor again, after some time ; for I had 
quitted the city during the hot months, I asked him the fate of 
the girl. 

" Died drinking rum !" 

" Where's her man ?" 

" Turned out of the departmen ! Loitering along the sunny 
side of the Avenue, a wretch, a relic !" 

In Washington there are several men and partnerships which 
make the business of lending money to clerks to anticipate 
their salaries, — shaving the same from thirty to fifty per cent. 
It is said that these work in collusion with the Department 

Gambling as practised in the old days has ceased at the 
Capital ; poker has succeeded it. 

Poker is the extreme development of the American specula- 
tive character. Poker is the American arena. In former 
days they constructed coliseums for vast combats upon which 
a nation could look down. In modern times, coming to the 
democratic spirit, the game of poker has been invented. That 
is the American Coliseum. All the struggles between Tiberius 
Caesar and the gladiators are reproduced when a man like Hon. 
S. sits down to try a game of chance, five cards dealt all 
around, with a table of five. The pack of cards costs forty 
cents. The Coliseum in our time would cost twenty-five mil- 
lions. Such is the pure democratic institution." 

Said my informant : " Poker is the best test of magnificent 
character. I have played poker for fifteen years, and I sup-, 
pose that between the hospitality which the game involves, and 
the direct losses which stand upon the die of the cards, I have 
lost fifty thousand dollars. No money which I ever spent 
gives me less concern than that fifty thousand. There area 


number of first-class men here — bold, brave, cool-headed — who 
love poker as a pursuit. Bob S., recently appointed to the 
most important office in the gift of the President, is perhaps 
the first poker player in the national councils. S.'s power as 
a poker player lies in his imperturbable look, his love of the 
game, his boldness to hang on and fight out the chances not 
only until midnight, but until the morning dawn, his thoroughly 
regardless way of counting his losses, and his endurance — the 
game absorbing every sense until it is finished. On the whole, 
S. is both the most eminent and the most successful poker 
player of national reputation in America. 

In Washington there are few or no gambling houses, but 
poker is the social statesman's resort. It was different in 
other days. Old times at Washington showed horse-racing and 
dueling ; later came in common professional gambling on L 
street and on Sixth. After tolerating these nuisances for many 
years, on Wednesday, October 26, 1870, Joseph S. Hall's 
saloon was closed up by Marshal Sharp after a seventeen years 
course. This was the last notable faro bank in Washington.* 

The telegraph has advised you of the murder of McCarty b\ 
a rival gambler named Darclen, near Willard's Hotel, Wash- 
ington. These characters belong to the political period, inas- 
much as they have moved beneath the surface of Washington 
society since the time of the war, and have frequently appeared 
above it. 

Darden is a type of the Southern sporting man, heavy, se- 
cretive, without social pretension, and in the way of nobody 
except those who wish to try fortune with Mm ; but, like his 
kind at the South, he goes armed and is more ready to kill than 
to quarrel. He has long fluctuated between Richmond, Wash- 
ington, and Baltimore, keeping the society of sporting capital- 

* Henry A. "Wise gives in the life of S. S. Prentiss a scene at a public dinnet 
in 1838 where Webster made an inebriate speech on the Union, many weeping 
in a maudlin way, until a Kentucky member " in a perfect frenzy seized an empty 
champagne bottle and crying out : " Reform or Revolution ! Liberty or Death !" 
threw it at Webster's head. A faro bank scene in this book illustrates the morals 
of the time as well. 



MiS, and generally running a game or a table at one or more 
of these places. His den in Washington was a few doors from 
Willard's Hotel, and during the day he might be seen at his 
door or in the liquor saloons of the vicinity, a florid, quiet, 
watchful man, of burly size, and with the appearance in his 
heavy blue eyes of one who kept late hours and drunk deeply. 
Nature and habit have stamped upon his face and figure the 
Southern gamester's "guise; he is more than 40 years of age, 
dresses plainly, and his craft is to him a profession — a bad pro- 
fession, but with its regime of " honor," and to be maintained 
inside of its condition by " square" conduct. 

Jack McCarty, whom Darden killed, was not up to the gam- 
bler's mark of manhood, a plausible New Yorker, — young, 
handsome, and affable, — with the nature of a thief and the 
address of a gentleman. He wore better clothes than any man 
in Washington ; generally a superfine white overcoat with a 
black velvet collar, a large and valuable ring, diamond studs, 
and boots and linen of irreproachable neatness. Kid gloves, 
and a hat perpetually new, added to this outcast's splendor ; 
his raven hair and moustache called attention from his pale, 
cowardly eye and white-livered skin. He subsisted upon the 
proceeds of the shame of fallen women, with whom he lived 
continually, not as one infatuated, but as one despotic and ava- 
ricious. About one square from Darden's gambling house, 
McCarty kept a brothel, a pair of rickety brick houses, sepa- 
rated by an alley and a gate. It was ostensibly the habitation 
of McCarty's woman-creature, a person to whom he had once 
taken a fancy and given this establishment, watching over its 
management himself meantime, and spending all his nights 
there, while by day, in elegant attire and profuse with money, 
he loitered around the Capitol, the Departments, and the hotels, 
seeking the company of unsuspecting gentlemen whom he 
eventually decoyed either to this den or to some gaming-table 
over which he had control. This despicable life, set off with 
the carriage, the amiable audacity, the dress, and the liberality 
of a seeming gentleman, was, for a time, so successful that 

JACK m'carty. 463 

Jack McCarty could keep the company of Representatives and 
Senators. During the impeachment trial hundreds of visitors 
to Washington conversed, walked, and drank with this pre- 
sumptuous man, whom they do not now confound with the 
unfriended corpse descended to its gutter with a gambler's bul- 
let in it. 

He began in New York, and venturing once to give some 
impudence to a lottery banker, — -the imperious M. C. S., — was 
driven bodily out of New York city by bruisers in Stanley's 

employ. At Washington he put up at W Hotel, and fell 

into the company of guests promiscuously. Too handsome to 
escape curiosity, he was at last ordered out of the house, but 
the acquaintanceship he had formed, and his usefulness as a 
guide and protector in low resorts, kept him above the surface 
until his decease. . 

Six months ago some of the gamblers of the city, and sonn 
indignant people into whose company McCarty had insinuated 
himself, had the man arrested for maintaining a house of ill- 
fame. The sickening details of his daily life were remorselessly 
revealed ; how he abused the female inmates of his den, be- 
cause they were not more industrious at their calling ; and 
how he kept men of family prisoners there, refusing them liq- 
uor to alleviate the relapse from drunkenness, until they signed 
away check after check, and at last were kicked out beggars. 
All this, be it remembered, at the central spot of the American 
Capital, and more or less interwoven with affairs of public bus- 
iness ! 

McCarty, it is said, blackmailed his former respectable 
acquaintances to give bond and pay expenses for him in this 
extremity, and, although found guilty and remanded for sen- 
tence, he in some manner escaped and took to the street, full 
of resentment against Darden and the gamblers of Washington. 

One night, within a stone's throw of the dens of both, these 
dark merchants in the passions and frailties of human kind 
closed their careers. In hate and violence they rushed fu- 
riously together, and the more agile and incensed McCarty 


practised the " science" in which he had taken lessons at many 
a prize fight, upon the head of his older adversary. Speedily 
the pistol of the Southerner equalized conditions. The one 
man, with a face gashed and streaming blood, stood a grad- 
uated murderer above the tumbled carcass of his enemy, whose 
miserable soul had not far to descend, so deep in hell had been 
his birth and his youth. In the rich attire which had always 
distinguished him, the agony and the death embracing in his 
handsome face, Jack McCarty went out of infamy by the ap- 
propriate door, too base to point a moral or adorn a tale. 

We may thank God that some of the old social conditions 
are gone which made vice take credit to itself. The country 
contiguous to Washington used to be inhabited by fox hunters 
and idlers of good family who often used the old churches for 
their places of rendezvous. 

The vengeance of democracy, which has finally been satiated 
upon the broad estates and great manor houses of the planters, 
was long anticipated by time upon the established church, and 
the fate of many of them in Virginia reads like a tale of feu- 
dal blasphemy. Of one of these churches, once full of the 
fashion and vanity of the Easter weeks, the tale 'was written 
as long ago as 1838, by Bishop Meade, that it was said by the 
neighbors not to have been used for the last thirty or forty 
years. Thus deserted as a house of God, it became a prey to 
any and every spoiler. An extensive brick wall, which sur- 
rounded the church and guarded the graves of the clead, was 
torn down and used for hearths, chimneys, and other purposes, 
all the country round. The interior of the house soon sank 
into decay, and was carried piecemeal away. For many years 
it was the common receptacle of every beast of the fieid and 
fowl of the air. It was used as a granary, stable, a resort for 
hogs, and everything that chose to shelter there. " Would 
that I could stop here ! " says the chronicler, " but I am too 
credibly informed that for years it was also used as a distillery 
of poisonous liquors ; and that on the very spot where now 
the sacred pulpit stands, that vessel was placed^in which the 


precious fruits of Heaven were concocted and evaporated into 
a fell poison equally fatal to the souls and bodies of men ; 
while the marble font was circulated from house to house, on 
every occasion of mirth and folly, — being used to prepare ma- 
terials for feasting and drunkenness — until at length it was 
found bruised, battered, and deeply sunk in the cellar of some 
deserted tavern." 

Washington used to develop in the slavery days a strangely 
faithful, ceremonious, and peculative kind of Statesman's ser- 

I saw a venerable negro in his full harness one day in 1868 
at the house of an official. He had waited upon no end of 
great people from the era of Monroe down. He knew me as a 
visitor merely, at the house of his " boss." The boss went 
out, temporarily. 

" Gath," he said, " get into a talk with Cassius. He's 
clever as you make 'em. Take him on the sober side ! " 

"Come in ! Cassius. Cassius, I would like to have a little 
private talk with you. Do you know my business ? " 

" Yas, sir ! you write for the papers and things ! " 

" That's what's the matter ! It is in your power, Cassius, to 
be of great service to your race and mine. You can do this 
by telling me the truth. I know that you are a shrewd man ; 
you have saved some money ; you have political frames of mind. 
All your life is not a monkey-life, as most people believe. The 
problem of the black race which troubles us, even now that 
you are free, will trouble you and us much longer, unless we 
understand each other. You are a salaried liar, Cassius ! You 
dodge and skulk for your master, swear he is not home, keep 
away ' bores,' ' bag' cigars at his parties. I have watched you. 
You are a Washington servant, no worse than many other 
grades of white politicians. It is a low life, Cassius ! " 

" Mr. Gath," said Cassius, " you're severe ! " 

" Am I right ? " 

" You ben lookin' at me, sah ! " 

" Now, come ! what are you colored people up to ? " 

" Mr. Gath," said Cassius, " de laws of human nature are 


juss de same ! Skins may differ, as de poet says, but affection 
or human nature never waries. For de lass twenty years de 
culled people of de Destreek have had ringleaders — intelligent 
men, who keep 'em adwised. I was one of 'em. We chief- 
tains could read, and we did read. We consulted. We found 
foce (force) was out ob de question. We so adwised our 
people. But we saw that de Norf and Souf must go to war 
some day, and it was plain dat in some way we could get 
mixed up in de war. As to end ob dat war our hearts was 
troubled. We thought de Southern man would win. He was 
de fighting jackall. 

" It proved contrariwise. But it was so ordered dat de 
black man's help was necessary. Dat necessity, sar, saved us, 
brought us out, and we air now on our pins. 

" Mr. Gath, dere are mo' culled people going to school now 
in de Destreek dan whites. In no cullud quarter nor family is 
dere objection to schools. All is enthusiasm ; de same cannot 
be said of Berks county, Pennsylwaney, and some oder white 
destreeks. Dere never was a people dat hungered and fursted 
for education like de American citizens of African descent. 

" Mr. Gath, we're savin' money. De money-puss controls. 
Dere are some tolabul rich men in de Destreeck. 

" Sar, we know what is impossible. As to socially pushin' 
among white folks, it is not congenial to either color. As to 
marryin' into 'em, where is de use ? A good mahogany face 
is to my mine de color ob de gole-paved streets. We can't 
prevent licentiousness altogether. Neither can you. Nature 
draws de dividin' line between de colors. Sometimes a nasty 
imagination will cross it from boff sides. 

" Lassly, sar, it wouldn't improve your idee ob my sagacity 
to say dat I took cigars and brandy from my boss. Consider, 
sar, dat I don't do it. But, if you want to pursue dese ques- 
tions in social science furder, come to my house of a Sunday, 
and I will give you a cigar quite as good as de boss's, and 
perhaps, by accident, de identical brand ! De Lord dat 
created men wid inalienable rights, give 'em, also inalienable 


Another vice of the old by-gone days in Washington was 
dirt. This was, probably, the cause of the celebrated National 
Hotel disease in Washington in the year 1856, whereby 
President Buchanan and many public men were made seriously 
ill, and several lingering diseases and deaths ensued. 

Returning from the city to Capitol Hill one night, I encount- 
ered a celebrated hotel clerk, by name Unsworth, who gave, 
me some news apropos of this disease : ' 

" Benson's dead ! " 

This Benson was the proprietor of the National Hotel, and 
he was a man from Delaware, hailing from the state capital 
of Dover, who migrated to Philadelphia, to Atlantic City, and, 
finally to Washington, keeping, generally, large caravanseries, 
so that his death affected, paragraphically, many thousand 
people who had execrated his coffee, praised his Indian slap- 
pers, and left carpet-bags in lieu of unpaid board bills upon his 

Benson was dead, and what a savory flavor arises about the 
memory of the man who has for many years sustained a big 
tavern in a thoroughfare city. He has been hospitable to 
ungrateful millions, and they remember him not, except for 
lingering dyspepsias which he presented to them as his busi- 
ness card. When the great day of judgment comes, and they 
call the name of certain among hotel keepers, there will be a 
stir and a sensation, and perhaps apprehensions about the resur 
rection of the body, of which they were so great afflicters. 
Taverns seem to have changed very little since the beginning 
of the Christian era. With Benson's death in our mind, the 
keeper of a vast gravy-table, and a honeycomb of cheap bed- 
chambers in a political city, how easy it is to make a secular 
conception of the Inn at Bethlehem, where there was " no 
room " for the poor carpenter and his wife. You can see it 
all : the property-holders going up to be numbered by the 
Internal Revenue Officers ; hackmen with camels at the front 
door, flourishing whip-handles ; the gorgeous hotel clerk with 
a pen behind his ear, snubbing Joseph, and the poor carpenter 
turning about to say in sore spirits : 


" There is no room for us in the inn ! " 

History repeats itself! Clad in a little brief authority, the 
hotel clerk was probably the same being in the first as in the 
nineteenth century. Benson's death has always been a large 
matter whenever a tavern-keeper died. 

But this Benson kept the National Hotel — the place where 
the mysterious disease raged about the period of James 
Buchanan's inauguration, but not while Benson was proprietor. 
Many persons are supposed to have died with this disease, and 
others retained the seeds of it through suffering years, some 
of which latter class live yet, unconscious of the cause of their 
pain. All sorts of theories prevail with regard to this local 
epidemic — or, to speak correctly, this endemic, — a popular one 
being that it was occasioned by pro-slavery demons, who 
poisoned the food or cisterns in order to kill Buchanan, and 
throw the government into the hands of Breckinridge ; but 
this theory, I apprehend, never obtained credit with philosophic 

I replied to my informant, when he said that Benson was 
dead, by saying : 

" I wonder if anybody ever guessed what made the disease 
at the National ? " 

" I know ! "said Uns worth. " I was the superintendent of 
the wine-room there at the time, and a few weeks previously 
had been superintendent of the whole house. 

" You see, Guy, of Baltimore, came down here, resolved to 
make the National the best hotel, for table accommodations, in 
the country. I was employed at $75 a month to keep the 
wine-room. Guy paid good wages, and kept perhaps three 
hundred persons employed about the place. As long as he 
was himself, the hotel equaled his expectations ; the bill of 
fare was one of the best and largest ever seen in America ; 
and the National did the great business of the Capital. That 
was the reason Buchanan and so many leading people stopped 

" Well ! Guy took to drinking, and was on the e-we of losing 


his mind, as lie afterward did lose it, entirely ; and, seeing 
that he would soon be unable to attend to the place, he came 
to me and asked me to exercise general superintendence till he 
was well enough to make other arrangements. This I did, 
out of regard for him, although I was quite disabled by the 
work I had to do. The hotel gradually lost its system and 
order, changed proprietors, and a person from the North came 
on to be the superintendent. He resolved to reduce expenses, 
and had me muster the waiters, and others, to discharge the 
superfluous, and to cut down the wages of those retained. The 
first thing he did was to cut off the seven waiters whom I 
employed for no other purpose than to clean the filth and 
waste from the lower part of the building. 

" You can have no conception of the amount of offal, and 
corruptible matter which accumulates in the larders, kitchens, 
and sewers of a large hotel. The National, in particular, is 
an old, soggy, rotten house, stuffed with dead rats, pierced 
beneath with a complex system of sewerage, and the slope 
thereabout is slight, so that the refuse in the sewers cannot 
run off easily. Hence, it makes vapors and odors, which 
escape, generally speaking, through the valves and taps at the 
street curb-stones. 

" At and before the time of the National Hotel disease, two 
things happened to make all the gases and vapors ascend by 
night directly up into, and through the house. First, the 
people in the neighborhood complained of stench, and head- 
aches arising from the open sewers, and the authorities of the 
city had all the valves capped. Secondly, the force was taken 
off which had been used to clean the basement every night, 
and, in a little while, the bottom of the house was like a grave- 
yard, filled with decaying bones, carcasses, and offal. 

" It was a very mild winter, and, as long as the nights kept 
cold, nobody was affected; but, in the warm weather, the vile 
air, like a mist of stench, climbed up the corridors, and went 
rambling about the house. People would come to breakfast in 
the morning and be seized with diarrhea, which would prey 


upon them. The rumor of the disease filled everybody with 
fright. The head cook, a Frenchman, came to me and said : 

" What is ze mattare, Meester Unswort ? zey say I poison 
ze people. I do not know nothing about it at all. What is 
zis ? Mon Dieu, will you tell me ! ' 

" ' Yes,' said I, < I'll tell you.' 

" I took him to the basement, and told him to lean over one 
of the valves, while I lifted the cap. He drew a single breath 
and fell as if I had knocked him down. 

" Nobody who slept out of the house took the disease. I 
got my meals there, and slept out, after I discovered the symp- 
toms. And I escaped the disease." 

This I suppose to have been the true matter with this ancient 
hostelry : untimely economy, and the march of dirt. It is the 
property of one of the Calverts, descendants of a Lord 'Balti- 
more, and it is now alleged that he means to erect upon the 
old site, the largest hotel edifice in the country. In this old 
rookery died Henry Clay. 

To refer to " the worst of Washington" without saying some-, 
thing of the demoralization slavery inflicted upon the place, 
would be to own its cause for effect. 

Slavery preceded the District, but its penalties were tightened 
by the growing antagonism to it. 

In 1827, a committee of Congress reported that the legal 
presumption was that persons of color going at large in the 
District, without any evidences of their freedom, are abscond- 
ing slaves. The testimony of no free negro or mulatto, was 
received as evidence in the District. " The Capital," says 
Henry Wilson, " early became a great slave mart. There 
grew up a race of official and unofficial man-hunters, greedy, 
active, dexterous ; ever ready by falsehood, trickery and violence, 
to clutch the black man who carried not with him his title to 
freedom." In 1816, John Randolph moved the appointment 
of a Committee to consider the expediency of putting an end 
to the slave trade in the District. Judge Morrall also charged 
the Grand-jury that " the frequency with which the streets of 


the city had been crowded with manacled captives, sometimes 
on the Sabbath, could not fail to shock the feelings of all 
humane persons." The Washington Spectator in 1830, de- 
nounced processions of negroes hand-cuffed and chained in 
pairs, moving through the streets. Nevertheless, slave-traders 
were licensed by the City Corporations for the paltry sum of 
four hundred dollars, and in 1836 it was enacted that any free 
colored person at large after 10 o'clock at night, should go to 
jail. The malicious zeal of the Washington and Georgetown 
authorities to oppress free negroes, and serve the interests of 
slave-holders led to a counter feeling, and a strong anti-slavery 
spirit grew up which was helped by some outrages committed 
on white visitors who patronized the Northern anti-slavery 
papers. Petitions against slavery were poured in upon Con- 
gress, and many strong scenes happened in the Capital. Mr. 
Rhett of South Carolina, on one occasion significantly calling 
upon the entire delegation from all the slave-holding states to 
retire from the Hall of Representatives and to meet in the room 
of the Committee on the District of Columbia. 

As early as 1829 a convention for the Abolition of Slavery 
met at Washington, and about 1835 Benjamin Lundy estab- 
lished there his paper, called " The Genius of Universal 
Emancipation", thereby forestalling Garrison who had designed 
to print " The Liberator" at the Capital. Mr. Lundy, who 
was the Peter the Hermit of " the agitation," got nearly a 
thousand names to a memorial against slavery which was 
presented in Congress by the people of the District. I have re- 
cently found a copy of this memorial, which relates amongst 
other things, that a free colored man had been arrested on 
suspicion of being a runaway, and although nobody claimed 
him he was sold for life by the District authorities for the pay- 
ment of his jail fees and sent by a slave buyer to Louisiana. 
." We blush for our country," say the petitioners," while we 
relate this disgraceful transaction. 

In 1835 that persevering apostle, Lundy, established at the 
Capital his paper called " The Genius of Universal Emancipa- 



The corporation of Georgetown in 1832 made it penal for 
any free person of color to take " The Liberator" from the 
Post-Office, and non-payment of the fine involved sale into 

In 1816 the American Colonization Society had been organ- 
ized at Washington and it was for forty years the social oppo- 
nent of the Abolition Society, standing upon national and 
orthodox ground and requiring no better opposition than the 
excesses of speech and the heterodoxy of religion and the de- 
nunciation oi the Union by the Anti-Slavery leaders. The 
fine edifice of this Society still stands on Pennsylvania Avenue, 
but its utility is for the present over. 



The slave pen or jail of the District of Columbia was a small 
two story brick house with an attachment like a kitchen which 
contained two barred windows. It was a more modest and 
more innocent looking structure than the celebrated slave pen 
at Alexandria which was gutted out during the war. The 
sources of supply for the District trade were the large planta- 
tions in the old adjaceut parts of Maryland where the land 
was so exhausted that it hardly gave sustenance, while mean- 
time the proprietors hunted, fed, and frollicked just as in bet- 
ter days and found the most spontaneous and reliable of their 
resources to be the increase and marketableness of dusky hu- 


man nature. It was not uncommon as well for Congressmen, 
Bureau officers, and the loitering gentry of Washington to so 
embarrass themselves at the gaming tables as to be obliged to 
sell their body servants. The demand for slaves was such in 
the South that slave buyers were as widely ubiquitous and vig- 
ilant in the streets as horse jockeys. ■ They dressed in such a 
manner as to be known to everybody, and were apprized of the 
straits, needs, and temptations of everybody holding a slave. 
In 1850 there were about 3,700 slaves in the District and three 
free negroes to each slave, but in Maryland there were more 
than 90,000 slaves. 

Slavery languished along in the District of Columbia until , 
April, 1862, when it perished nine months in advance of 
the Act of Emancipation. The Senate passed the bill for 
compensated emancipation (at an allowance in the aggregate 
of $300 for each slave) by a vote of 29 to 14 ; the House stood 
92 to 39. The appropriation was $1,000,000 to pay loyal own- 
ers and $100,000 to colonize slaves. 

Drunkenness of a gross sort is declining in Washington, but 
we have had many notable instances of its ravages even in our 

When the juices of the rye get possession of a clever man 
they make a lunatic asylum of him. There was one man 
here whose face looked like death. He was a Senator and 
man of past prominence. He came to Washington a drunk- 
ard, known to be such, I suspect, to the people of his State. 
Much was expected of him, and he began fairly. But rye 
whiskey flows straight toward a man's moral courage, like a 
wrecker that first puts out the lighthouse lamp. Being drunk 
half the time he sub-divided the drunken half into licentious- 
ness and gambling, while the sober half was classified into 
remorse and soda water. Once he joined the Congressional 
Temperance Society, and like a poor weak will, outlived all 
self-denial, he became an Apostle before he had got quite sober. 
He made a speech of such fervid good intentions that you 
could smell the liquor in them. Nature means to let no man 


make capital either in vanity or enthusiasm out of her broken 
commandments, and she struck down this vaunter of a tem- 
perance he had not yet begun to live, like St. Paul smitten 
from his horse. He read his poor wife's glad gratulations aloud, 
throwing his hearth open to the crowd, and went down from 
applause to stupor, treating his good intentions. A few weeks 
ago he went upon a long debauch of the lowest sort, leaving 
his family in despair. His State delegation compelled him to 
come to the impeachment trial under threat of procuring his 
expulsion. There he sits among his recollections, still drink- 
ing to keep alive. His complexion is saffron ; the ligaments 
of his cheeks are seen through the skin ; his hair is as dry as 
if its oils were burnt out with alcohol ; his " lack-lustre dead 
blue eye" shows like melted glass. The papers from every- 
where come to him with upbraidings. He cannot see nor reason 
sanely upon himself, but, sitting in the Senate, beguiles the 
time with reminiscences of that Cyprian, who, jealous of the 
rare prize of a Senator, sits yonder in the gallery now, looking 
upon him with a smile in her heart. 



Senator Carl Schurz, whom nobody will deny to be a pure, 
educated, and traveled gentleman, expressed, in the American 
Senate, in 1871, the well-accredited belief amongst the people, 
that politics as it is must be congenial only to knaves. 

Schurz' s original and quoted charges at that time were that 
" office brokerages " existed here ; that Bishop Hughes for- 
merly had one Livingstone kept over two administrations as 
Appraiser at New York, at a loss of two millions a month ; 
that Grant had, in seven days, appointed one man, through 
successive rejections, to five offices ; that Colonel Murphy has 
had fifteen hundred applications for office ; that John Morissey 
had put a man in the Treasury Department in a picked place ; 
that in the New York Custom House it is the rule and not the 
exception to take bribes ; that five Collectors of San Francisco 
have been defaulters ; that from twelve millions to twenty-five 
millions of dollars are lost annually by frauds in the New York 
Custom House ; that every change of Collector of the Port 
there costs the country ten million of dollars through confu- 
sion and disorder ; that in one judicial district there had been 
three changes of United States Attorney in two years, and 
that these three were now defending criminals they prosecuted 
while in office, " with all the secrets of the Government in 
their possession ;" that " rings '*' existed in the Departments 
to keep down the quotum of work per diem, — benefit associa- 



tions in the interest of the lazy ; that Senators are in the habit 
of recommending men to office and then privately writing let- 
ters against them ; that Secretaries are threatened by Con- 
gressmen with voting against their appropriations unless their 
men are rewarded. Schurz put this question, and answered 
it mildly : 

'" Can a Congressman, under the present system be entirely 
innocent ?' That question has been addressed to me by an in- 
telligent observer, and my first impulse was at once to say, 
' certainly he can.' Yes, I believe he can ; but I declare, sir, 
when you survey the whole field, when you study the influ- 
ences of the present system upon the frailties of human nature, 
you will admit that it is exceedingly difficult for him to be so. 
The system is a hot-bed of that peculiar kind of corruption 
which is the more dangerous as it does not appear in the pal- 
pable, gross, and unequivocal form of "money, but appears in 
the seductive shape sometimes of an apparently honorable 
political or personal obligation. It insinuates itself like a 
subtle poison into those crevices of the human conscience which 
are opened by the expansion of generous feelings." 

Schurz referred to Lincoln's saying : " We have mastered 
the rebellion, but this office-begging army will, in time, become 
N more formidable in time than the rebellion itself." 
1 This speech of Senator Schurz cannot be condensed here, 
being in itself a dense condensation of evils. Nobody objected 
to it, except some of the old reprobates of politics, who lie, 
like dead nerves in the head of the government, insensible to 
anything. No man can read it and expect, afterward, to see 
reform and decency under our present system any more than 
there can be happiness in a family where the women are wan- 
tons and the men rob. Schurz proposed a Civil Service Board 
of nine Commissioners, who shall divide the country into ter- 
ritorial districts and hold examinations periodically. The 
President shall nominate and the Senate confirm them ; the 
only appointments exempt from the examination shall be 


Cabinet and foreign Ministers, Judges and clerks of the courts, 
and officers of Congress. 

Since that time we have had a fancied Civil Service, appar- 
ently intended to bring the reform into contempt, and to head 
off such speeches as the above. 

Both houses of Congress may be said, without scandal, to 
contain a very considerable minority of corrupt men. Of their 
working majority a comparatively small portion comes under 
the head of constant and steady jobbers ; but in each of the 
big committees these same professional advocates of jobbery 
have prominent places, and they balance in influence all the 
rest of Congress. Such men have, from time to time, thrown 
a little piece of spoil into the way of some more scrupulous 
colleague or friend on the floor, and the scrupulous man is in 
more distress lest that one peccadillo may come out than the 
full-blooded jobber about all his villiany. This was a part of 
the situation in 1873. 

A long recess takes place between the 4th of March and 
the following December. During that interim the public press 
will have the calmest opportunity to make a grand inquest of 
the nation upon the hundred or more great corruptions which 
equal the Credit Mohilier in venality. Although the Congress 
to come contains a large proportion of jobbers, many of these 
will probably find their occupation gone, because the land-grant 
system has no legs to stand upon any longer. A change of 
the officers of the House of Representatives will accomplish a 
good purpose ; and one of these, namely, Bill King, of Minne- 
sota, a notorious lobbyist, and the Postmaster of the House, 
has voluntarily taken himself out of the way, having secured 
an enormous contract on the Northern Pacific Railroad, whose 
bill he helped to pass. 

Another officer of the house, Sergeant-at-Arms Ordway, of 
New Hampshire, whose office has been a bank of deposit for 
Oakes Ames and other schemers, proposes with diminished 
chances, to make another run, and he is said to rely upon the 
power which he holds over certain members, whose financial 


transactions he is said to have control of. To Ordway will be 
opposed Jee Dwyer, a henchman of the Delano clique, and this 
selection will be out of the frying pan into the fire. While 
there are several excellent officers on the House side, attentive 
and industrious, particularly in the document rooms and the 
folding rooms, at the same time the doorkeeper's department 
and part of the clerk's department and a majority of the com- 
mittee clerks have touched the silver of the schemers, and 
wait for each new session to come about to lay by an unearned 

The Ways and Means and the Appropriations Committee, 
.and two or three other important committees are esquired by 
men who know the full value of a wink or a word, and of 
whom it will be impossible to expect anything better. It ought 
to be the ruie that a chairman of committee is to be judged by 
the character of his clerk as well as by his own ; for the clerk 
is the officer of the watch, and if he hold over from Congress 
to Congress he will obtain, with ordinary method, the run of 
the Committee. The clerk lately before the Ways and Means 
Committee, on the charge of having offered his services to a 
brokers' combination for $500 a month, and $5,000 when the 
bill in purchase passed, used to be so indispensable to General 
Schenck that when Schenck put through his bills he would 
have the man by his side to compute for him and supply points 
and figures. 

The office of Speaker is so exceedingly powerful that the 
caucus fashion of naming the man has come to be of very 
doubtful propriety. We can see now that it was not until 
Schuyler Colfax had left the chair altogether and retired from 
the House that his little acts of consideration for envelope- 
makers, shovel makers, iron makers, express companies, &c, 
were found out. Without a perfectly high-minded Speaker and 
absolutely honest men at the heads of the four or five lead- 
ing committees all legislation will inevitably be diseased. 

Apprehensive that their misdeeds cannot be hidden much 
longer, a great many members and Senators are now making 


the point, through their political organs, that a public man has 
a perfect right to own railroad stocks, &c. If this point be 
admitted the tone of Congressional life would at once be set ten 
degrees lower than heretofore ; for up to this time it has been 
to such an extent dishonorable to hold stock in affairs requir- 
ing recognition of any kind from Congress, that men like 
Mr. Colfax made a profound secret of their investments 
under this head. 

Among the schemes which need perfect ventilation as soon 
as the coming Congress meets, are the whole series of Iowa 
Railroads, the passage of the additional subsidy to the Pacific 
Mail Steamship Company, the passage of the Texas Pacific 
bill, the facts under which such railroads as the Cairo and Ful- 
ton had their land grants extended, the combinations which 
exist to force the railways on the border of the Indian Territory 
through that region and extort land grants at the expense of 
the civilized Indian, and also the manner of building the Cen- 
tral Pacific Railroad, and the sums of money which it has paid 
to Senators from California and Nevada, and perhaps from some 
of the Eastern States. 

From this list of jobs it will be seen that the matter of sub- 
sidies in lands and moneys has involved the major portion of 
public corruption. There are two States of the West in which 
the land-grant system has wrought complete demoralization of 
political sentiment, and captured the press, the Legislature, and 
finally, the Land Office at Washington city. 

Prior to the time ,of the building of the Pacific Railway, 
measures were made to open railways across Iowa as feeders 
of the great overland line. From Council Bluffs to Dubuque, 
from Sioux City to Burlington, the public men of Iowa were 
brought into accord with these railroad enterprises, the money 
for the same being to a considerable degree supplied by Oakes 
Ames, Samuel Hooper, and Eastern capitalists, until finally the 
railroad interest brought a man from Iowa to preside over their 
land affairs in Washington, and the belief is a growing one 


here, that the Land Commissioner is nearly as much of a rail- 
road instrumentality as Hubbard, or Allison, or Wilson, or 

Meantime the State of Kansas found its way into land 
swindling through the Kansas Pacific Railroad, whose attorneys 
afterwards occupied the same relation to the Northern Pacific 
Railroad. The State of Kansas has suffered even more than 
Iowa from railroad rapacity and corruption, and the horrible 
sensations aroused by Caldwell's and Pomeroy's elections were 
the legitimate deductions of the Kansas Pacific corruption and 
three or four other railroad jobs in the bleeding State. It 
ought to be out of the power of any caucus or party organiza- 
tion to bridge the present excitement over by any mere recess. 
The next Congress will be called upon to take the positive step 
of disbanding some of these railway companies and confiscat- 
ing the property they have acquired from the Government, 
unless meantime some one of these bloated corporations should 
fail of its own rottenness or absurdity, and so precipitate a gen- 
eral panic in wild-cat railway securities. The like view is en- 
tertained by some shrewd observers, who have indicated one of 
the great new roads of the West as probably destined to col- 
lapse. Many critics believe that some wholesome panic or 
calamity of this kind is essential to purify legislation and bring 
Congress back to some modest and careful principles of gov- 
ernment. The bounteous and profligate spirit of the old Fed- 
eral party, which took advantage of the earnestness of the 
country at the outbreak of the war, has clutched it ever since, 
like a horse leech, and must be chastised if we are to have any 
comprehensible institutions and preserve the character of the 

President Grant, who is not a politician, has been led into 
endorsement of such schemes as ,the James and Kanawha 
Canal and the Tennessee and Coosa Canal Company. It is 
well known in this city that both of these enterprises are in 
the hands of two or three unscrupulous claim agents, some of 
whom were formerly renegade office-holders, and their scheme 


of securing an endorsement of bonds merely means a grand 
wholesale steal, and the distribution of the largest part of the 
plunder around Washington city. Washington itself has been 
transformed into a depot for claim, county, subsidy, and exper- 
imental attorneys who reside here permanently, are numbered by 
hundreds, and have been recently recruited by some of the most 
learned legal prostitutes in the United States. These people make 
a corrupt atmosphere about the Capitol, and through the depart- 
ments and other influences extend to what is called" Washing- 
ton society," which during the past Winter has been at the ■ 
same time unusually brilliant and equally hollow and corrupt. 
Women have come to adopt the business of jobbing agents, 
and many of these, with the consent of their husbands, use 
society to obtain an influence over public life, which is rapidly 
undermining the whole fabric of public spiritedness and states- 
manliness. It is not an uncommon thing to walk around 
Washington and have this or that house pointed out as the 
proceeds of a jobbing intrigue, where the successful attorney 
or conspirator entrenches himself, or herself, as a. durable fea- 
ture in social life, and must pursue the same line of business 
hereafter in order to support the extravagance of the social 

Not even the Courts of Justice have escaped contamination,, 
for the lobbies of those Courts approach in dishonesty the lob- 
bies of the Capitol. This remark is not confined to any par- 
ticular Court, it embraces the commissions^ as well as the 
Courts, and has taken the form even of international scandal. 
Crude, open lobbyists, in the yearly pay of great railways, are 
admitted to the tables of people considered to be of the high- 
est social consequence, where can be heard descriptions of last 
night's game of poker, of the shrewd tricks played upon verdant 
heads of Bureaux, and jests are freely made between men and 
women upon the success of their neighbors and acquaintances 
in operations scandalous to good morals and true patriotism. 
The Credit Mobilier exposures were requisite to show that not 
even the lobby was perfectly aware of the height to which ras- 


cality had reached during the last ten years of almost univer- 
sal speculation. 

The Land Office records show that about 180,000 square 
miles of the, best land in the public domain have already been 
promised away to private corporations, equal in extent to the 
six great Western States, which are to be represented in the 
next Congress by twelve Senators and sixty Representatives. 

While the Pennsylvania Railroad is alleged to control, 
directly or indirectly, in the present or prospectively, above 
12,000 miles of road, which represent above $500,000,000 of 
stock, the Central Pacific Company of California threatens to 
become the sole carrier for all that coast, and the Union Pacific 
Railroad must inevitably fall into its hands, unless anticipated 
by the Pennsylvania road, which may undertake to build from 
Salt Lake to the Western coast. These enormous operations 
in land and railways, inevitably concentrate in time into a very 
few hands, and the Central Pacific may be said to be the per- 
sonal property at present of only four or five persons. ' Cor- 
rupt bankers, corrupt manufacturers of iron, and corrupt rail- 
road speculators divide equally in these schemes, and the bonds 
precipitated upon the domestic and foreign market by the stim- 
ulation of the land-grant system make a perpetual carousal at 
the Capital City, where a portion of the plunder is divided and 
the extravagance of social life widened. Amid such vast spec- 
ulativeness the integrity of parties has been blotted out, and 
for years past a portion of the democrats have shared with the 
republicans in plunder of all sorts. These democratic plunder- 
ers may be traced into almost all the States, to Kentucky and 
Wisconsin, to New York and Indiana, to Missouri and to Ala- 
bama. The National Convention is a mere farce, manipulated 
by these jobbers, who undermine both parties ; and it appears 
probable, from recent developments, that the Louisville Con- 
vention of Bourbons, as well as the Baltimore Convention of 
liberal Democrats, were both controlled by agents or principals 
in railway swindling. 

I propose to make a portion of this description plain by 


detailing some of the railroad operations which apparently 
emanate from Iowa, and are traced to the Land Office in this 

It has been a frequent boast among railroad men and their 
agents, that both Secretary Delano and Commissioner Drum- 
mond were put in their present position through railroad influ- 
ence, because that interest was determined to control the Inte- 
rior Department so long as a single land grant remained unad- 
justed. It was known that they were both more or less con- 
nected with railroad enterprises, and the railroad interest had 
confidence in them, and used its influence to secure their appoint- 
ment. The opposition to Secretary Cox, which ultimately re- 
sulted in his resignation, is said to have come Irom the same 
quarter. Repeated efforts were made to manipulate him in their 
interest, but in vain. Hence, they determined to get him out of 
the way. His action in the McGarrahan case was a mere acci- 
dent, and perhaps pretext, to cover the conspiracy which had 
already virtually secured his removal. 

Whether it was a vain boast of the railroad men that they 
would control the Department needs no answer to those who 
are acquainted with the administration of the affairs of the 
General Land Office since Delano and Drummond were placed 
in charge. It would seem that nothing has been wanting that 
was calculated to make good their, prophecy. No demand 
made by a railroad company is denied, be it ever so absurd 
and unlawful. Their agents and attorneys have full sweep of 
the Department, with free access to its files and records, while 
the attorneys for settlers are inconveniently restricted in the 
privileges of the office. The utmost diligence is used to des- 
patch the business of the railroad companies, although the 
business of the settlers "arising under the Homestead and Pre- 
emption laws, is more than a year behind. 

Willis Drummond is a man of about forty-three years of age, 
of a tall, somewhat slender figure, probably six feet in height, 
with black hair, full black whiskers and mustache closely cropped, 
and a pair of roving black eyes, which denote a person of sagac- 


ity rather than of wisdom. He has a dark complexion and irreg- 
ular features, which make up the ensemble of a face that would 
hardly attract the gaze of the poet. A person of slow percep- 
tions, he is the slave of strong prejudices,, and withal so obsti- 
nate as to suggest the stubbornness of the bull that will not 
get out of the way of the locomotive. After a service of several 
years as Commissioner, he has not acquired even a tolerable 
knowledge of the public land system. As a consequence, he is 
compelled to rely almost wholly upon his heads of divisions, and 
when they take a position he fights their battles, whether right 
or wrong, and usually succeeds, by dint of perseverance and 
unyielding doggedness, in sustaining them. He is, therefore, 
well calculated to perform the service required of him by those 
who put him in position. It is said that he served in the army 
during the rebellion, rising to the rank of major, after which 
he settled at McGregor's Landing, on the Mississippi River in 
Iowa, and entered upon the practice of law. Mixing himself 
up with politics, he drifted into the position of Supervisor of 
Internal Revenue, in one of the districts of that State. He 
became also a director of the McGregor and Western Railroad, 
which brought him prominently into the notice of such men 
as James F. Wilson, W. B. Allison and others of the Iowa land 
grant speculators, who recognized in him qualities that emi- 
nently fitted him for the style of Land Commissioner they were 

It is to be noted that by far the largest part of the mischief 
wrought in the Departments by the railroad interest, was the 
work of this meddlesome, active, and. corrupt nest ,6'f Iowa, 

By an act passed in 1856., donating lands to that State to 
aid in the construction of railroads, four line's of : road were 
authorized. In view of the fraud and isOrrtiptiom that . have 
grown out of this subsidy, it becomes, at this late day, a 
serious question whether it was not a curse, both local and 
national, rather than a blessing. These are the railroad fellows 
who have their grip upon the vitals of the Interior Depart- 
ment, and whose agents boastingly declare the act. 


One of the first acts of the Delano-Drummond rSgime favor- 
able to this interest was the re-opening of the' claim made by 
the Burlington and Missouri Railroad Company, one of the four 
roads above referred to, which claim had been settled adversely 
by Secretary Browning. The decision of the latter, having 
reversed that of his predecessor, Mr. Harlan, was concurred 
in by Secretary Cox. Nevertheless, Mr. Delano reinstated 
Harlan's decision giving to the company named a million of 
acres not granted by Congress. A narrative of some of the 
antics of Mr. Drummond in connection with this case may 
serve to illustrate how strongly the railroad companies are 
entrenched in the General Land Office. This will involve an 
account of the vicissitudes of a newspaper correspondent in 
that office, while there seeking information for the benefit of 
the public. He has stumbled upon the trail of the Burlington 
job, and proceeded to work it up as rapidly as possible, in order 
to prevent the consummation of the scheme in Congress. His 
letter was published in one of the leading New York papers in 
December, 1871, and it fell like a thunderbolt among the rail- 
roaders in and about the Land office. Their game was up for 
the time being. Although, their bill was prepared to confirm 
to the company title of the land involved in Delano's decision, 
yet it would never do to present it to Congress until the storm 
had passed away. Then there was hurrying to and fro, and 
diligent search in spying out the recreant clerk who had given 
out the information. If there was a traitor in the camp his 
head must come off, and that quickly ; for otherwise there 
could be> no safety in pursuing their unlawful schemes. A day 
after the appearance of the obnoxious article the following 
order was posted on the doors of the General Land Office : — 


Department of the Interior, } 

Washington, D. C, Dec. 1, 1871. | 

It is ordered that attorneys and other agents be prohibited from examin- 
ing papers and files in the custody of clerks, or from conversing with the 
clerks in regard to claims or cases in their hands for examination or other 


official action, without written leave or direction from the Secretary or 
Assistant Secretary of the Interior, or the head of the proper bureau ; and 
that if any attorney or agent shall hereafter violate this order, all further 
official communication with him shall be suspended. 

The clerks and employes are prohibited from giving information to any 
one in relation to the business of the Department, or any of its bureaux, or 
of the condition or progress of any claim or case, unless instructed to do so 
by the Secretary, the Assistant Secretary, or the head of the proper bureau ; 
and any violation of this order will subject the offender to immediate 

Columbus Delano, Secretary. 

One trick of this circular is in its date. It was posted on 
the day following the publication — namely, December 19, — but 
dated back the 1st of the month, so that it would not appear 
to have been occasioned by the exposure. 

The order has been rigidly enforced against all but railroad 
attorneys. About the time it first appeared the correspondent 
referred to asked for permission to see the papers in the Bur- 
lington case, which was freely given, for he was not suspected 
of being the author of the offensive article. During the past 
Summer, in order to refresh his memory and for-the purpose of 
examining a paper which he had not seen on the first occasion, 
he called upon the Commissioner, and the following conversa- 
tion occurred : 

Correspondent : Dr. Drummond, I understand that before 
Secretary Delano rendered his decision sustaining the claim of 
the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad Company to lands 
outside of the limit of their grant in Nebraska, he wrote a 
letter to Judge Hoar, requesting that gentleman's opinion as 
to the proper construction of the grant made to that company 
in the act of July 2, 1864, and that Judge Hoar, in response, 
gave his opinion, which is on file, with the papers in the case. 
If you please, I would like to see the document. 

Commissioner (with a greatly perplexed air) : For what 
purpose do you wish to see it ? 

Correspondent : I wish to satisfy myself upon some points 
in question relating to the Secretary's decision. 


This was going directly to business. The Commissioner 
knew his refusal to show the document would be placing a 
weapon in the hands of his antagonist which might be used 
with considerable effect, and that on the other hand he would 
be little better off after allowing the paper to be scrutinized. 

Commissioner (hesitatingly) : I don't think the papers are 
in this office ; I think they are in the Secretary's office. 

Correspondent : I was under the impression that after the 
case was settled by Mr. Delano's decision the papers were sent 
to your office, which I understand to be the proper place to file 

Commissioner : I will see where they are. 

A messenger was sent for the head clerk of the railroad di- 
es j 

vision, who had custody of the papers, but that clerk was re- 
ported absent, whereupon the Commissioner suggested that the 
correspondent call at another time. Agreeably with the sug- 
gestion he presented himself on the following day, apparently 
to the annoyance of the Commissioner, who, nevertheless, sum- 
moned a clerk, and after a whispered conference, said, " The 
papers are in the Secretary's office, and I have no doubt he 
will let you see them." 

Wending his way to that part of the building in which the 
Secretary's office is located, the correspondent entered the room 
of Mr. Sturgis, who has charge of the railroad branch of the 
Secretary's office. 

Correspondent : Mr. Sturgis, Commissioner Drummond tells 
me that you have the papers in the Burlington case, and that 
you will let me see them. 

Mr. Sturgis : Are you an attorney in the case, sir ? 

Correspondent : No, sir ; I write for the press. 

Mr. Sturgis : Ah ! What is the name ? I see I shall have 
to speak with the Secretary. 

A card was given and Mr. Sturgis disappeared. After a 
short absence he returned and indicated that permission had 
been given by turning to the files and affecting to search for 
the papers. His search was soon brought to an abrupt close 


in a manner which might indicate anything but a disposition 
to produce the papers. He said that he was ignorant of their 
whereabouts, but that his assistant, who was then absent, could 
no doubt lay his hands upon them, and that, " if you will call 
again, I will try and have them for you." 

Not to be baffled by weariness of these delays, the corres- 
pondent presented himself promptly on the following morning, 
when he was told by Mr. Sturgis that the papers were in the 
Commissioner's possession. Returning to the room of the 
latter, the following ensued : — ■ 

Correspondent : For two days, Mr. Commissioner, I have 
been vainly striving to get sight of Judge Hoar's opinion. 
Upon my first application you said that the clerk who had 
charge of it was absent. I called again yesterday and was 
told by you that the Secretary had the papers. I am here now 
for the third time, with information that you have them. 

Commissioner : These papers emanated from the Secretary 
and are not a part of the records of my office. I do not feel 
authorized to show them without the Secretary's permission. 

Correspondent : Permit me to remind you, Mr. Drummond, 
that when, some months ago, I asked permission to examine 
the papers, so far from raising the objection of the want of 
authority, you promptly and freely accorded me the privilege. 
This decision gives away public lands valued at five million 
dollars. Certainly you will not deny the right of the people 
to know upon what grounds their property has been disposed of ? 

Commissioner (excitedly) : I have nothing to do with it. 
I did not make the decision. I still say I do not feel at liberty 
to show you the papers without the consent of the Secretary. 

Correspondent : Very well ; I will try to obtain his consent. 

Retracing his steps to the room of Mr. Sturgis. Correspon- 
dent : Mr. Sturgis, the Commissioner says that the papers* are 
not technically a part of the records of his office, and that he 
has no authority to show them to me without an order from 
the Secretary. 

Mr. Sturgis : Oh, tut ! tut ! the Commissioner must paddle 


his own canoe. The papers belong to his office now, and we 
are not responsible. If any trouble grows out of his showing 
you the papers he must bear the onus. 

Another trip through the long corridors brought the corre- 
spondent again to the Commissioner's room. When he entered 
Mr. Drummond was engaged with others, and endeavored to 
escape the crisis by attending to everything and to the busi- 
ness of everybody else that would serve as an excuse to delay 
the production of the much-sought-for document. In this way 
nearly two hours passed, half of that time being consumed in 
hearing arguments pro and con in a contested case. After the 
office had been cleared the Commissioner, turning about, faced 
his untiring persecutor with a frenzied grin, which seemed to 
say, " Curse the villain !" The latter sat upon a sofa near by 
with a face expressive of the most profound resignation. 

Correspondent (laughing) : Mr. Sturgis says that you must 
paddle your own canoe — that his office disclaims all responsi- 

Commissioner (immeasurably perplexed) : Well, you only 
want to look at them, do you ? 

Correspondent : That is all I have asked for, sir. 

The clerk was then summoned and directed to snow the 
paper, but received special instructions not to permit a copy to 
be taken. So, through the trickery and bad faith of Commis- 
sioner Drummond, the better part of three days was expended 
in the effort to see a paper that should be open to inspection at 
all times. 

As already stated, the above order is a dead letter so far as 
the railroad attorneys are concerned, but is rigidly enforced 
against all others. The same correspondent states that on one 
occasion, while he was engaged writing in the General Land. 
Office, he saw attorneys for settlers enter the room, each pre- 
senting to the head clerk his written permission, describing 
the papers he wished to see, and then taking his seat- at the 
table and waiting until they were brought to him, not being 
permitted to handle the files nor molest the cases containing 


the records. On the other ' hand, he saw railroad attorneys 
and agents enter the room, and, without passes, select from 
the hies such papers as they wanted and examine ad libitum 
the records of the office without being questioned. The 
Washington agent for the Iowa railroad is Mr. William T. 
Steiger, an eccentric old philosopher, having an odd theory as 
to the instability of the earth's crust, together with an ingen- 
ious crustometer, the product of his own invention, by which 
he demonstrates that Washington City is sometimes shoved 
into blue" ether 1,200 feet above its normal altitude. Until 
recently he has occupied a room in the Interior Department, 
assigned to him as an office. His business is to see that the 
settlers get as little land as possible. 

He may be seen in the bookkeeper's division, spying out 
defects in the entries of poor, ignorant people, who have bee» 
unfortunate enough to settle within railroad limits, and causing 
them to be slaughtered like sheep by the unwilling pen of the 
canceling clerk, so that their land may inure to the railroad 
grant under a pernicious ruling of the Department. At another 
time this .diligent seeker after railroad honors and railroad 
pelf may be seen in the pre-emption division, following up 
with savage yelp the miserable pre-emptor, the favorable loca- 
tion of whose land stimulates the greed of the never-sated, 
conscienceless jobbers. He is to be found also in the patent 
division, urging to increased efforts the hard-worked and weary 
clerks who prepare the parchment for his capacious maw. 

There is one practice in which the Commissioner indulges 
that should not go unmentioned. When a case which has 
been decided by him is appealed to the Secretary, Mr. Drum- 
mond goes before him and argues and wrdngles with the 
persistence of a pettifogging lawyer in support of his own 
decision. Probably a parallel case would be that of- the judge 
of a court appearing before a tribunal superior to his, own, and 
arguing in support of a judgment rendered by him. Why the 
Secretary does not push this meddler into the hall needs 
answer. Come to think, we are answered. 


To show the corruption of these gamblers in the wealth of 
the public domain and the future of Iowa, it may be mentioned 
that several years ago, through the Jesuitry of certain Iowa 
Congressmen, the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad 
got possession ol the Dubuque and Sioux City road, and then 
bent it out ot its line, which was to strike the Pacific Railroad 
at Columbus, Neb., down the east side of the Missouri River, 
to connect instead with their own road, and thus control both 
railways. Thus the Chicago and Northwestern Road in Iowa 
and the Iowa division of the Illinois Central, so called, and the 
Sioux City and Pacific Railroad are all three the prize of the 
same gang. The lawyers for this gang passed the Rock 
Island Bill through Congress, and expect to pass also a similar 
bill for the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad. 

To explain. The chaps who got control ot the Cedar Rapids 
and Missouri River Railroad let in the three Congressmen — 
Wilson, Allison, and Hubbard. It occurred to them that the 
more northerly road, if prolonged into Nebraska direct, would 
be a rival feeder to the Pacific Railway. Aware that a ninth 
of the road was held by Wilson, and a ninth bj> Allison, they 
visited Wilson first, and said, " We want your ninth to capture 
the Dubuque and Sioux City." Then proceeding to Dubuque, 
they, said to Allison, " We want your ninth to do the same." 

" I can't do it, upon my soul ! " exclaimed Allison. " My 
Dubuque people would kill me politically if I sold them out on 
the certainty of a short line to the Pacific ; but I will run 
down to Sioux City and pick up Hubbard's (the third Congress- 
man) interest and let you have it." 

This o was done, and Hubbard was deluded with the idea 
that after his ninth of the stock had been used to capture the 
Northern road he could get it back from Allison, taking 
Allison's ninth interest. 

Three-ninths make one-third. The three treasonable mem- 
bers of Congress Jiad fixed the fate of the Dubuque and Sioux 
City Railroad, and one of the tools and agents had been the 
Dubuque Congressman. The road fell into the hands of the 


Cedar Rapids and Missouri River people. Then, instead of 
building straight across the Platte River, the conspirators had 
a route surveyed down the west side of the Missouri, over a 
rough, irregular country, and by collusion with the Land 
Office their survey was rejected as impracticable. Of course 
they surveyed west, down the east side of the Missouri, south- 
eastward toward the Cedar Rapids road, and through the 
noblest part, of course, where ten rich sections a mile meant a 
principality. Here, also, they could build for $16,000 per 
mile. This diverted survey was accepted, and by the diversion 
the stock of the Dubuque and Sioux City Railway fell down 
so flat that the conspirators picked up the remainder of it. 
If you will take up your railroad map to-day you will there- 
fore see that the Sioux City and Pacific Railway— the only 
extension of the Dubuque and Sioux City — curls about back- 
ward, gobbles up a kingdom of goodly land, and becomes a 
mere parasite of the Cedar Rapids and Missouri Road; and 
finally expires at Fremont, Neb. 

For doing a part of this work both Wilson and Allison were 
arraigned in a Cincinnati newspaper in 1868, and they both 
delivered speeches in Congress consigning the slanderer to 
perdition. Wilson said he had hoped to leave Congress 
" without a smell upon his garments," but he has been an 
" attorney in the departments '.' ever since, and goes by the 
name of the " Singed Cat." Allison, covering his tracks like 
an Indian, has been elected to the United States^ Senate for 
six years. 

Before concluding this chapter, let me note the contents of 
that heterogenous department, the Interior, where the inscru- 
table Delano presides. It has been for many years the hive 
of scandal in Washington, beset with attorneys, " rigs," right- 
handmen, and half-breeds, who sell out the patrimony of their 
red brethren. 

The Secretary of the Interior is provided with one assistant- 
secretary, a solicitor, and a chief clerk, and his office proper is 
separated into eight divisions, viz. : Public Documents, Dis- 


bursements, Appointments, Indian Affairs, Public Lands and 
Railroads, Pensions, Indian Trust Fund, and Superintendent 
of the Patent Office Building, giving employment to about 80 
clerks, messengers, mechanics, watchmen, and laborers. 

These divisions correspond, to some extent, with the prin- 
cipal Bureaux of the Department, entitled the Pension Office, 
General Land Office, Patent Office, Office of Indian Affairs, 
Census Office, and Office of Education. In addition to these, 
the Metropolitan Police of the District, the Insane Asylum and 
the Capitol Extension are under the supervision of this 

The Pension Office is presided over by a Commissioner at a 
salary of $ 3,000 per annum, and contains about 270 clerks, 
22 copyists, and 32 messengers and laborers, and 59 pension 
agents are distributed throughout the States. 

There are employed in the General Land Office under the 
control of a Commissioner, who also receives a salary of 
$3,000, 145 clerks, 11 copyists, 6 messengers, and 9 laborers. 
In the work of surveying the public lands there are engaged 
17 surveyors-general, assigned to special districts, each pro- 
vided with clerks and draughtsmen. The registers and 
receivers of public lands number 82 respectively, and their 
offices are located throughout the Southern and Western States 
and the territories. The Surveyors-General and Registers 
and Receivers report to the Commissioner, in whose office are 
filed the maps and plots of surveys, and the returns of the 
local officers, showing the disposition made of the public lands 
in each district. Of late years the adjustment of land grants 
to railroad companies has greatly increased the business of 
this bureau, and has given rise to much scandal respecting the 
partial and unjust course pursued by the Commissioner and 
the Secretary in favor of these companies in their numerous 
contests with pre-emption and homestead settlers. 

The Patent Office occupies greater space in the building 
than any of the other bureaux, the model-room alone taking 
up one entire floor. The Commissioner of Patents receives a 


salary of 84,500. There is also an Assistant-Commissioner, 
at 83,000, a chief clerk at 82,500, 3 examiners-in-chief at 
83,000 each, 23 examiners at 82,500 each, 22 assistant- 
examiners at $1,800, and a like number of second assistant- 
examiners at $1,600 per annum each. About 265 clerks, 
copyists, etc., comprise the remainder of the force employed 
here. » 

The office of Indian Affairs is controlled by a Commissioner, 
who is assisted by 37 clerks and 5 messengers and laborers. 
To this bureau is assigned the important duty of directing its 
numerous superintendents and agents in their intercourse and 
dealings with the Indians, who are scattered from Lake 
Superior to the Pacific Ocean, and number about three 
hundred thousand. ► There are eight superintendents. 



If you had been a member of Congress, elected to go to 
Washington for the first time in your life, there would probably 
be, combined with a good deal of self-gratulation, some curios- 
ity in your mind as to what the Capital was, and how you should 
live there. 

In this mingled largeness and dependence, had you come 
here on Saturday, prior to a rainy Sunday a few years ago, you 
would have asked to be carried home within twelve hours, and 
buried amongst the ranks of the people. 

One Washington Sunday that 1 remember ! Such a day for 
squalls, and drizzle, and snow without purpose ; cold that had 
not the stamina to make anything freeze, yet was too mean not 
to keep one chilly; damp, and mud, and the sky scowling; an$ 
the wide, miry, rutted " Avenue" almost absolutely forsaken. 
It was like some awful days in camp, which your army friends 
remember yet with a desolation they can never tell. 

At 4 o'clock, or after dinner, I called on some friends at the 
hotels, and they already wore that look which married men 
away from home exhibit when sober, blank, fidgety disgust — 
the belief that life is a fraud, and Government a swindle. 

In one room at a big hotel I found a Governor and two of 
his prime Council, from a region far west of Chicago. A little 
sullen fire burned in the grate ; the tapestry carpet had neither 
nap nor figure; greasy and faded "rep" curtains made the 
place dusk; one old lounge with a creak in the back hid itself 



between the window and the old bier of a bed, and the two 
Councillors lay upon it. The gas was lighted in the daytime. 
I thought it was an upholstered purgatory. All of the inmates, 
family men, with children, with homes, they waited there, tell- 
ing stories and matter, every one of which thickened more the 
cloud on the brow, from their mere masculinity. 

The Governor jumped up at last. 

" I don't want to drink a drop. I said I wouldn't when I 
left home. But I'll take a drink because this is so infernally 

There you have the Congressman away from home, flying 
out of atmosphere into appetite. 

Down stairs I found a gentleman of large capital or large 
ostentation, with a couple of parlors for which he probably 
paid twenty dollars a day, a servant of his own, and a side- 
board for anybody; on the sideboard cheese and crackers, 
brandy, true Espagnola cigars lying loose, whiskey, and a 
bright fire which he poked up himself to keep the ceiling lively. 
The host was a man, rich, large, of easy temper, of a gold 
seal, of the business world. What job he had, if any, I know 
not ; but in the politest and most enjoyable way he kept every- 
body at peace, announced that he was fixed for the session, and 
always at home to friends. Some attorney perhaps, in a vast 
jnterest, who has come early, come to stay, and come to win. 
To this gentleman, no doubt, the whole Congress was a parcel 
of smart boys, who would have to be encouraged up to the 
appreciation of the justice of his claim. Home had no strings 
at his heart, used as he was to those distant transactions. 
And these are the men who have their way with legislation, 
sooner or later, unless the angry clamor of all the presses and 
people be suddenly and authoritatively heard. . 

Again, I passed part of the evening at the house of one who 
is a Senator, and rich enough to keep a fine house here, as well as 
one in his own State. There were his pictures, his fresh silk 
furniture, the low grates in which the fire shone like one of 
the flaming great figures in his carpet afire ; and his wife was 


by to make it all look like real home — not Washington home. 
I marked how satisfiedly and reposedly his homeless visitors 
seemed to be in this goodly place, and it made me think that 
it would be a cheap, as well as magnanimous thing, for every 
Congressional District to secure for its Representative a home. 

Monday was, if possible, a meaner day than Sunday — snow- 
ing a sort of parboiled, still-born snow, — a snow that had no 
quality of itself but whiteness, and that not long. Through a 
rain as dishonest as the snow, and a wind that was merely 
atmospheric bad temper in motion, the slippery, shivering pro- 
cession of notabilities and sight-seekers took the only two streets 
that are traversed here, F street and Pennsylvania Avenue $ 
and dribbled along towards the Capitol. What comfort is like 
a horse-car's, particularly if you are impatient ? and so holding 
to a strap like grim death, you are set down at the foot of the 
Capitoline terraces, and in a few minutes have passed the 
leathern wickets set in the deep portal. Up through echo, and 
shadow, and carved places you go, up polished steps and under 
stained windows, until the clear, lucid light of the lobbies 
shows you all the many people walking, scraping, hob-nobbing, 
hurrying in there, and suddenly the doorkeepers at the chamber 
doors grow obdurate ; admittance to House or Senate is refused ; 
it is 12 o'clock, and simultaneously the Senate and House of 
Representatives enter upon the second session of the forty-first 

At the same moment the Supreme Court, after opening its 
regular term, is forming in body with its officers to pay a visit 
of honor to the President, and the President has already de- 
spatched his Secretary to Congress with his message. 

The entire Federal Government in all its Departments is, 
therefore, in motion ; and the good order, business prompti- 
tude, and the clear American republican simplicity with which 
the work was begun, was very impressive. It looked to be, 
and it was, genuine, popular government as perfectly realized 
as any man, not a Utopian, could expect. 

In the House of Representatives, precisely as the point of 



the minute-hand overtook the hour-hand at noon, the Speaker, 
Blaine, dropped his gavel, and called upon the House to come 
to order. 

Immediately beneath him the Chaplain, Butler, raised his 
voice in such prayer as made the occasion reverent. Then the 
long roll was called over by the slim-bodied Clerk, McPherson, 
— and tolerably exhausting work it was — and the fine presence 
of the Speaker again arose to declare that there were sufficient 
members present to make business legal. 

At this junction the nation, as a business house, disappeared, 
and the two political parties who divide the country between 
them came with alacrity on the carpet. The blessing had 
been said, and the proprieties finished ; the knife and fork 
and regulated gluttony were in order. 

The House thereupon waited till half past 1 o'clock, when, 
after a crossing of duck-guns between Garfield and " Fernandy" 
Wood over some little matter, Captain Horace Porter, modest 
as a singed cat, moved up to that part of the house without 
existence, that goes by the fabulous name of "Bar," and 
presented the President's message in the original Eng- 

It took an hour to read the President's message, and it was 
listened to, by some, with indolent interest, by many with 
attention. To show how the partisan feeling was the predom- 
inant one, it is only necessary to say that the portion referring 
to what side shall control the politics of Georgia was the only 
part applauded. 

In that message, thus rapidly read, the State and the needs 
of the nation were recited, and had there been moie character 
in the scene it would have been worth describing : the Chief 
Magistrate's panoramic view of his country unrolled before the 

Due respect was paid to the message by handing it over to 
the printer, and then another patriotic confab occurred over 
the suspended Alabamians. Of course the Democratic side 

a delegate's power and position. 499 

was routed in a whiff,- and then four " Delegates " from Ter- 
ritories came up, bearing these singular names : 

Chaves, Cavanaugh, Nuckolls, and Pelucius Garfielde, with 
an e. Nuckolls looks to me like an hereditary case of bad 
spelling, but before Pelucius Garfielde with an e I fly, as before 
some antique statue. 

A Delegate is a sort of Congressional tadpole. He can 
swim and dive, but he cannot croak. He has no vote upon 
what he has been talking about. He says, " My voice is for 
war," but that is all of him that is. He is cruelly endowed 
by Congress with the power to put his nose into every question, 
but his hand nowhere. He disobeys his Bible every day, which 
says : " Let your conversation be yea ! yea ! and nay ! nay !" 
while, according to the rule of Congress, he has everything but 
a yea and nay. Besides, he is subjected to the indignity of 
being sworn in after the regular " members," like a negro 
Methodist, who is allowed to speak in class-meeting after the 
poor white trash have finished. This kind of second-hand 
Congressman I commiserate. He is like Shylock, invited to 
Bassanio's dinner : " To smell pork ; to eat of the habitation; 
to buy with them, sell with them, talk with them, walk with 
them, and so following ; but not to vote with them." 

Take another scene of note in the House of Representatives : 
the re-election of the Speaker at the beginning of a Congress : 

One Saturday, at 12 o'clock, while the fate of the offices of 
Admiral and Vice-Admiral were trembling in the balance of 
the yeas and nays, a wooden angel descended in the form of 
Speaker Blaine's gavel, and stirred up the waters, floating the 
Admiral to dry land. Immediately Speaker Blaine, consulting 
some memoranda under his table, cleared his throat, elevated 
his voice, and made a little speech to the Representatives 
of posterity, who had, meantime, all taken theii* seats to 

The Speaker, who wears a blue coat, which, with his mili- 
tary statue, adds to his many graces the presumption that he 
once " fit into " some great war, and who is alert, as Colfax 


used to be, but with a manlier, wordlier sort of dash about 
him, is one of the Mark Antony school of orators. 

" A plain blunt man, 
That love my friend * * and only speak right on." 

Yet underneath, Blaine is impetuous without impetuosity, 
and the depths of him are as still as the Irish Sea. He makes 
no speeches which are not carefully pre-arranged, and inclines 
to the practical and sober ideal of manhood. Blaine has really 
a boyish nature, a spontaniety, and an excessiveness of health 
and good humor which are the main elements of his popularity 
amongst other politicians ; but while he is yet of less reputa- 
tion before the people than a dramatic use of his position might 
have obtained for him, he appears to be making very sure steps 
toward a renown of more longevity and reality than if he had 
gyrated by the way, attached himself to all the secret societies, 
and played the daisy in the public walk. 

The Speaker, as above described ; the galleries crowded 
thick and black, and the steam of their suspirations making 
them look thick and foggy ; the lobby doors showing through 
the glass how many hundreds were unable to enter for want 
of room ; the ladies' gallery, full of the wives of new members 
and of wondering constituents, in queer bonnets, who expected 
to see said members make a speech directly after roll-call ; the 
floor a decorous, compact mass of Representatives, every mem- 
ber of the new Congress in his place, and the retiring mem- 
bers, officers of the Executive Government, officers of the 
Supreme Court, Senators and privileged guests, standing 
behind in a half-circle, — to these, Mr. Blaine, in the pause 
after he had rapped with the gavel, made a speec